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Embedded Computer Systems: B-1B Computer Upgrades Must Support
Conventional Requirements (Letter Report, 02/27/96, GAO/AIMD-96-28).

Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Air Force's B-1B
Bomber Conventional Mission Upgrade Program, focusing on the Air Force's
decision to upgrade the bomber's embedded computer systems in light of
concerns raised in previous reviews.

GAO found that: (1) because of limited resources, the Air Force
originally planned a simple memory upgrade, but that upgrade would not
support the addition of new conventional weapons system capabilities or
reduce the maintenance costs of the outdated computers and software; (2)
the memory upgrade would not increase the existing computers' processing
speed, making the computers incapable of performing critical functions
or meeting system requirements; (3) the Air Force has increased funding
so it can replace the existing computers with more sophisticated
software; (4) the Air Force expects to award a contract for the computer
upgrade design in April 1996 and complete work by January 1997; (5) the
Air Force could save over $800 million in software maintenance and
support costs over the 20-year life of the upgraded aircraft; and (6) it
is critical that the Air Force ensure that the upgraded computers will
support the planned conventional weapons and capability requirements for
the B-1B bomber.

--------------------------- Indexing Terms -----------------------------

     TITLE:  Embedded Computer Systems: B-1B Computer Upgrades Must 
             Support Conventional Requirements
      DATE:  02/27/96
   SUBJECT:  Embedded computer systems
             Systems conversions
             Bomber aircraft
             Advanced weapons systems
             Computer services contracts
             Defense capabilities
             Life cycle costs
             Air Force procurement
             Computer software
             Military cost control
IDENTIFIER:  B-1B Conventional Mission Upgrade Program
             Joint Standoff Weapon
             Wind Corrected Munitions Dispenser
             Air Force Operational Requirements Document
             Air Force System Requirements Document
             B-1B Aircraft
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================================================================ COVER

Report to the Secretary of Defense

February 1996



B-1B Bomber Embedded Computers


=============================================================== ABBREV

  CMUP - Conventional Mission Upgrade Program
  CMUPB-1B - Bomber Conventional Mission Upgrade Program

=============================================================== LETTER


February 27, 1996

The Honorable William J.  Perry
The Secretary of Defense

Dear Mr.  Secretary: 

At the request of the Subcommittee on Military Research and
Development, House Committee on National Security, we have reviewed
the Air Force's efforts to upgrade the computers and software for the
B-1B Bomber Conventional Mission Upgrade Program (CMUP).  Our
National Security and International Affairs Division is studying
other aspects of the B-1B and the role of bombers for specific
missions.\1 This letter discusses recent decisions the Air Force has
made in upgrading the B-1B's embedded computer systems in view of
concerns we raised during our review.  Details on our scope and
methodology are in appendix I. 

As you know, the $2.7 billion CMUP program is intended to convert the
B-1B from a primarily nuclear weapons carrier to a conventional
weapons carrier.  If the B-1B is to be the "backbone" of the bomber
fleet, as Defense envisions it, then upgrading the computers and
software is critical to achieving the new conventional capabilities
for the B-1B.  As with other older weapons systems, the 1970s vintage
computer systems embedded in the B-1B are operating at near capacity
and, without upgrades, cannot support additional weapons and
capabilities, which are to include cluster bombs, a global
positioning system for improved navigation and guidance, and more
accurate and increased-range weapons.  In addition, because the
software used in the B-1B is complex, poorly documented, and has been
extensively modified over the years, it is difficult and expensive to

The Air Force recognized that in order to support the additional B-1B
capabilities, the computer systems must be modernized.  Last year, it
identified several preliminary computer upgrade options, ranging from
a simple memory upgrade, to installing all new computer processors
and Ada software--a more modern computer language which offers
advantages in design, coding, and documentation, and cost-effective
software maintenance and support.  However, because of its desire to
maximize resources available to weapons and capability upgrades, it
allocated $2.3 billion for this purpose leaving $412 million for the
computer upgrade.  As a result, the only affordable option was a
simple memory upgrade. 

On numerous occasions from June through November of 1995, we met with
Air Force officials--including the B-1B's deputy program executive
officer, deputy program manager, chief engineer, software acquisition
and maintenance engineers, project managers, and the program element
monitor at the Air Combat Command--and we expressed concerns that the
memory upgrade option would not support the conventional weapons and
related capabilities the Air Force wanted to add to the B-1B and
could, therefore, jeopardize the entire CMUP effort.  We concluded
that the simple memory upgrade, which only doubled the memory of the
existing processors and did not increase the throughput capacity,\2
was clearly inadequate because it would not do the following. 

  Support conventional weapons and capabilities currently included in
     the CMUP effort, such as the Joint Standoff Weapon and the Wind
     Corrected Munitions Dispenser. 

  Allow the B-1B to carry and deploy three different types of weapons
     per mission as required by the Air Force's Operational
     Requirements Document, which defines specific weapons the B-1B
     must carry.  The simple memory upgrade would only accommodate
     one type of weapon per mission. 

  Provide the spare memory and throughput capacity specified in the
     System Requirements Document to accommodate future weapons and
     capabilities that are not part of the current CMUP effort.  The
     Air Force envisions adding new and more sophisticated weapons
     requiring unknown additional amounts of memory and throughput
     capacity.  Potential candidates for future capabilities include
     digital terrain maps, improved targeting systems, various
     on-board mission planning functions, and more sophisticated
     precision-guided munitions. 

  Facilitate cost-effective software modification and maintenance
     over the upgraded B-1B's expected 20-plus year life.  Under this
     option the Air Force would retain the existing software and the
     difficult and costly maintenance associated with it. 

The Air Force subsequently increased funding to about $510 million to
upgrade the B-1B's embedded computer systems by replacing the
existing computers with new 32-bit technology processors and
converting the outdated software to Ada.  Rockwell International, the
prime B-1B contractor, will be assisting in putting together a
Request for Proposals to use to solicit bids for the upgrade.  The
Air Force expects to award a contract for the computer upgrade design
in April 1996 and expects work to be completed in January 1997. 

Our work directly supports the decision to replace the processors and
convert the software to Ada.  This is clearly preferable to the
simple memory upgrade originally planned because it will not only
increase the memory and throughput capacity of the computers, but
could potentially save over $800 million in software maintenance and
support costs over the expected 20-plus year life of the upgraded
aircraft.\3 We believe that it is extremely important that the Air
Force not revert to a computer upgrade approach for the B-1B based on
cost alone but ensures that sufficient resources are allocated so
that the computers can support the conventional weapons and
capability requirements planned for the B-1B. 

\1 GAO's survey of the B-1B CMUP is discussed in its letter to the
Secretary of the Air Force, dated December 4, 1995
(GAO/NSIAD-96-52R).  GAO's other ongoing review addresses the cost to
keep bombers in the force and to modify them to use precision-guided

\2 Memory capacity is a measure of the amount of information a
computer system can store.  Throughput capacity is a measure of the
data processing rate or "speed" of a computer system usually
expressed in millions of instructions per second. 

\3 The Air Force estimated that Ada will cost $42 million a year less
to maintain and support than the current software, Jovial. 

------------------------------------------------------------ Letter :1

When bids are being considered for the B-1B's embedded computer
system upgrade, we recommend that you ensure that the upgrade will: 

  accommodate all currently planned B-1B weapons and capability

  meet the B-1B weapons interoperability requirement (three types of
     weapons per mission),

  reduce the risks of additional costly computer upgrades in the

  allow for the necessary spare memory and throughput capacity to
     accommodate future growth, and

  reduce software maintenance costs. 

Because of the Subcommittee's continuing interest in this area, we
would like the Air Force to provide us with the results of its
Request for Proposals and documentation of subsequent decisions on
the upgrade approach once a contract is awarded in April 1996.  We
plan to evaluate that response and share any additional concerns that
we may have at that time. 

\4 This does not include computer upgrades needed for the defensive
system or the central integrated test system.  The Air Force plans to
address computer upgrades needed for these systems at a later date. 

---------------------------------------------------------- Letter :1.1

The head of a federal agency is required by 31 U.S.C.  720 to submit
a written statement on actions taken on this recommendation to the
Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs and the House Committee on
Government Reform and Oversight within 60 days after the date of this
report.  A written statement also must be sent to the House and
Senate Committees on Appropriations with the agency's first request
for appropriations made more than 60 days after the date of this

In commenting on a draft of our report, officials representing the
Office of the Secretary of Defense and the Air Force concurred with
our findings and recommendations and agreed to ensure that the B-1B
Bomber computer upgrade will support conventional weapons

We are sending copies of this report to the Chairmen and Ranking
Minority Members of the Subcommittee on Military Research and
Development, House Committee on National Security; the House and
Senate Committees on Appropriations; the Senate Committee on Armed
Services; the Secretary of the Air Force; and to other interested
parties upon request.  If you have questions or wish to discuss the
issues in this letter, please contact me at (202) 512-6240.  Major
contributors to this report are listed in appendix II. 

Sincerely yours,

Jack L.  Brock, Jr.
Director, Defense Information and
 Financial Management Systems

=========================================================== Appendix I

To assess the Air Force's approach to upgrading the B-1B's computers
and software, we reviewed (1) Defense and Air Force instructions and
guidance governing the development, testing, and management oversight
of embedded computer systems, (2) B-1B program documents, including
software requirements documents, software development and test plans,
technical risk assessments and program status reports, and (3)
contractor documents and assessments by system users and independent
agencies.  We discussed B-1B issues and concerns with officials at
Air Force Headquarters and Office of the Secretary of Defense
offices, Arlington, Virginia; Air Combat Command Headquarters,
Langley Air Force Base, Virginia; the B-1B System Program Office and
Aeronautical Systems Center, Wright Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio;
and the Oklahoma City Air Logistics Center, Tinker Air Force Base,
Oklahoma, which is primarily responsible for maintaining the B-1B. 

In conducting our review, we analyzed assumptions in Defense cost
estimating models for the B-1B and evaluated independent assessments
of the various computer upgrade options.  We conducted our review
from June 1995 through November 1995, in accordance with generally
accepted government auditing standards.  We requested comments from
the Secretary of Defense and the Air Force.  On January 30, 1996,
representatives from the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for
Acquisition and Technology, the B-1B Program Executive Office, the
B-1B System Program Office, and the Joint Chiefs of Staff provided us
with oral comments on a draft of this report.  These comments are
discussed at the end of this report. 

========================================================== Appendix II

-------------------------------------------------------- Appendix II:1

John B.  Stephenson, Assistant Director
Kirk J.  Daubenspeck, Assignment Manager
Madhav Panwar, Technical Advisor
Cristina Chaplain, Communications Analyst

-------------------------------------------------------- Appendix II:2

Robert P.  Kissel, Jr., Issue Area Manager
Steven M.  Hunter, Evaluator-in-Charge
Robert G.  Preston, Senior Evaluator
Kurt W.  Buescher, Senior Computer Specialist

*** End of document. ***