DOT&E Director, Operational Test & Evaluation  
FY98 Annual Report
FY98 Annual Report


DoD ACAT ID Program: Prime Contractor
Total Number of Systems:30+ (TBD) satellites (GEO, HEO & LEO orbits)Lockheed Martin
Total Program Cost (TY$):$7,613M (excludes low comp.) 
Average Unit Cost (TY$):varies by component 
First Satellite Delivery:FY02 (GEO); FY03 (HEO);Service Certified Y2K Compliant
 FY04 (LEO)Est. 2QFY99


The Space-Based Infrared System (SBIRS) is in response to the U.S. military forces increasing need for accurate and timely warning of tactical missile attack. SBIRS will replace the current Defense Support Program (DSP) designed to meet U.S. infrared space-based surveillance and warning needs through the next two to three decades. SBIRS improves support to theater CINCs, U.S. deployed forces and allies by providing detailed information in the four mission areas of Missile Warning, Missile Defense, Technical Intelligence and Battlespace Characterization. SBIRS will provide significant performance enhancements over DSP by improving quality and timeliness of missile warning data. SBIRS should enhance information superiority and support the Joint Vision 2010 operational concepts of full-dimensional protection and precision engagement, by providing this data directly to theater commanders in a timely, survivable manner, thus enabling U.S. forces' immediate reaction to threat.

The SBIRS space segment includes a high and low component. The high component comprises six satellites: four in geosynchronous (GEO) earth orbit and two hosted payloads in highly elliptical orbit (HEO). The low component includes approximately 24 low Earth orbit (LEO) satellites. The SBIRS high component will meet a subset of the operational requirements, including all key threshold requirements. The SBIRS low component will provide a unique, precision, mid-course-tracking capability critical for effective ballistic-missile defense, as well as enhanced capability in support of other SBIRS missions. SBIRS High, complemented by SBIRS Low satellites will meet all of its operational requirements.

The SBIRS ground segment includes a Continental U.S. (CONUS)-based Mission Control Station (MCS), a MCS backup (MCSB), a survivable MCS (SMCS), overseas relay ground stations, Multi-Mission Mobile Processors (M3P), and associated communication links. The SBIRS ground segment will be delivered incrementally. The first increment, scheduled to be operational in FY99, consolidates DSP and Attack and Launch Early Reporting to theater ground stations into a single CONUS ground station, and will operate with DSP satellite data. The second increment, scheduled for FY02, will provide the necessary ground segment functions required for the new high-altitude SBIRS satellites and the residual DSP satellites. Included in the second increment will be mobile terminals capable of fulfilling the Army Joint Tactical Ground Station in-theater and SBIRS strategic processing requirements. A third increment, which will be operational in FY03, will add the necessary ground segment functions for the first LEO satellite scheduled to be deployed in FY04.


SBIRS was initiated in 1995 as a replacement for the Follow-on Early Warning System acquisition, which was canceled due to cost and requirements problems. Since SBIRS satellites need to be completed before the last DSP satellite is launched, it was placed on an accelerated schedule and selected as a lead program for acquisition reform. Much of the traditional required documentation was reduced or consolidated into a Single Acquisition Management Plan, and emphasis was placed on direct involvement through Integrated Product Teams (IPTs) rather than traditional documentation reviews.

The SBIRS high component entered the EMD phase following a Milestone II DAB review in October 1996. This decision was supported by an OA conducted by AFOTEC and reviewed by DOT&E.

The first phase of IOT&E will be conducted in 1999 to verify performance of the Increment 1 ground station. Due to the critical role SBIRS plays in Integrated Tactical Warning and Attack Assessment (ITW/AA) of attack on the CONUS, DOT&E has become involved in this program early. DOT&E works closely with AFOTEC, the program office, and all users to ensure that the acquisition strategy fosters an operationally effective and suitable system while maintaining cost effectiveness. DOT&E has supported SBIRS acquisition reform through heavy involvement in IPTs, early involvement in combined developmental and operational tests, and consolidation of developmental and operational test plans into a single Integrated T&E Plan.

The SBIRS test program includes a combination of OAs, combined DT/OT testing, and dedicated IOT&E. These OT&E events will progress in a building-block manner beginning with analyses, modeling, and validated simulation and ending with Hardware-in-the-Loop (HWIL) testbeds and field tests. Modeling, simulation, and testbeds will be used to assess those areas in which field-testing cannot be conducted, such as actual missile attacks and operation in nuclear environments. SBIRS operational effectiveness and suitability will be assessed on the basis of IOT&Es of each of the three major increments, which will include fixed and mobile assets.


In 1998, DOT&E approved an initial TEMP that defined the top-level test strategy and mapped it into the overall acquisition strategy. DOT&E also continued its oversight of the following areas: (each of which could impact schedule, cost and system performance)

Progress towards Increment 1 IOT&E was assessed by an AFOTEC (OA) that addressed four areas: (1) major issues potentially affecting effectiveness and suitability; (2) programmatic voids; (3) testability of user requirements; and (4) ability of the program to support operational testing. DOT&E has specific program concerns about SBIRS Increment 1: (1) immature ground system software and delays in requirements performance verification; (2) delays in procuring high reliability communications links from the overseas ground stations to the Mission Control Station; and (3) adequate hardware for crew training. The Program Office is addressing many of these findings through specific risk reduction efforts to ensure readiness to enter IOT&E for the Increment 1 ground system in April 1999. There are still testability concerns involving the difficulty of testing SBIRS/NMD operational requirements within an acceptable confidence limit.


Year 2000 (Y2K) testing for SBIRS is well underway, and there are no anticipated problems with the system. Due to extensive use of commercial software and close cooperation between the contractor team and the Air Force, an adequate verification program is in place. Final Y2K testing will be complete prior to the start of IOT&E for the Increment 1 ground station in April 1999.

The major near-term challenge for the SBIRS program is to ensure a seamless transfer of operations from the current DSP ground stations to the new SBIRS Increment 1 MCS. This demanding task is complicated by the compressed timeline and issues associated with shared use facilities at the overseas relay ground stations. Additionally, there have been significant delays in validating software performance of the Increment 1 Ground System. Other near-term challenges for the SBIRS program include the adequacy of testbed design and the scope of models and simulations needed to validate the stressing requirements for the SBIRS High satellites and MCS Increment 2; and the significant technical risks associated with accelerated deployment of the low component by FY04. The demanding SBIRS High requirements are a significant improvement over DSP's demonstrated performance, and require extensive testing to validate assure the system's performance. For HWIL testbeds, continued attention must be given to ensure that the testbeds are adequate to support OT&E, including the need to portray dynamic backgrounds that accurately portray the earth's background as seen from space.

DOT&E's assessment is that the SBIRS compressed schedule to achieve "On Line in '99" remains high risk, and delays in software integration and testing pose an increased risk in a "zero margin" schedule leading to Increment 1 IOT&E scheduled for April 1999. The primary challenge for Increment 1 is the verification of software performance and reliability. There have been significant delays in verifying software performance and reliability, as well as delays in hardware installation at the Remote Ground Stations. While this type of problem is not unusual, many systems interfacing with the SBIRS MCS are 1970s legacy reporting systems, whose interfaces may not be adequately documented. Delays in starting testing of these interfaces put an inordinate amount of pressure on first opportunity success. The "never fail" nature of ITW/AA systems requires extensive "on-line" testing to validate reliable Increment 1 operations and a period of parallel operations prior to declaration of IOC. Any significant delays to IOT&E would lead to "ripple effect" delays in the Increment 1 IOC date, and further delay the IOC dates for subsequent ground system increments. Also, there is concern that the SBIRS Increment 1 ground system includes voids in areas of fault detection and isolation, operator training, and manpower.

SBIRS Increment 2 (both space and ground elements) remain on schedule, but face continued challenges in the areas of simulation and testbed development. For Increment 2, progress has been made in identifying real world, dynamic effects in the short and medium wavelengths detected by the greatly improved SBIRS High sensors. The operational impact of these effects must be quantified and the SBIRS High sensor design shown to be robust enough to handle these natural phenomenon. Resolution of these issues can be best accomplished by incorporation of adequate testing processes into the baseline sensor ground-testing program. Until this testing is completed, the capabilities of the SBIRS sensor and signal processing to operate in the space environment remain a major concern.

Continuing significant technical problems with the SBIRS Low PDRR satellites demonstrate the wisdom of an extensive PDRR test phase before entering EMD to start construction of operational SBIRS Low satellites. The current schedule of events is very compressed, and does not allow full evaluation of the PDRR satellites' performance. The current baseline SBIRS Low schedule requires successful completion of many difficult activities proceeding in parallel toward a successful FY04 first launch, thus violating recommendations outlined in the recently completed Welch Report on missile defense systems. Any additional delays in the PDRR competing contractors programs will require starting EMD prior to completion of PDRR to meet the congressional goal of an FY04 first launch. DOT&E is concerned that the baseline schedule, which includes the Flight Demonstrations System and the Low Altitude Demonstrations System, will be delayed, presenting very few opportunities to collect "real world" performance data on contractor designs to assess their ability to meet draft performance requirements. This period of evaluation of PDRR results is critical since "lessons learned" from PDRR test activities form the foundation for the government and contractor teams to perform Cost As an Independent Value satellite design trades. Any significant problems encountered during the PDRR phase (given the compressed schedule) may lead to premature launching of inadequately designed and tested satellites to maintain the FY04 initial deployment date.

To support Milestone II decisions, DOT&E has worked closely with AFOTEC, the program office, and the user community, to ensure that the acquisition strategy throughout the acquisition cycle fosters an operationally effective and suitable system, while maintaining cost effectiveness. This early involvement included active membership in IPTs, fostering combined developmental and operational tests, early validation of software maturity, and consolidation of developmental and operational test plans into a single Integrated T&E Plan.


Software development and integration (even when much of the code is reused from previous programs) remains a difficult and challenging aspect for space and C3 programs.

Early involvement by DOT&E in space programs is critical to minimize the risk of entering IOT&E with an inadequate system. Due to the long lead-time needed to acquire satellite systems, and the few items procured, reliable assessments made in support of major Milestone II decisions require an extensive understanding of the system, which can only be gained from early involvement.

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