We determined whether the Navy adequately planned and performed a technology readiness assessment (TRA) of the critical technologies for the Next Generation Jammer (NGJ) program before it progressed into the engineering and manufacturing development (EMD) phase of the acquisition.
The Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) Airborne Electronic Attack Systems and EA-6B Program Office is responsible for acquiring, delivering, and sustaining the Navy’s airborne electronic attack systems, including the NGJ. The NGJ is an external, aircraft-mounted tactical jamming system intended to disrupt enemy air defenses and communications networks. The NGJ is being designed to replace 1970s-era technology with a more reliable system of electronic warfare technologies capable of combating current and emerging air defense systems. NAVAIR is pursuing a three-part incremental approach to acquire the NGJ system (Mid-Band, Low-Band, and High- Band) and at the time of our evaluation, NAVAIR had completed a TRA on the first increment. As a result, this evaluation focused on only the first increment of the program (NGJ Mid‑Band).
A TRA is a systematic assessment of the critical technologies to be incorporated into a weapon system. A critical technology is an enabling technology that is deemed critical to meet operational performance of the system being acquired. It is also: (a) a technology or application of a technology that is considered either new or novel or (b) represents an area that poses a significant technological risk during product development. The purpose of a TRA is to inform decision makers whether a program’s technologies are mature enough for entry into the EMD phase and to determine whether the intended technologies have been successfully demonstrated in a relevant environment. A relevant environment is a testing environment that simulates both the most important and most stressing aspects of the operational environment.
The purpose of the EMD phase is to develop, build, and test a product to verify that all operational and derived requirements have been met and to support production or deployment decisions. Programs that enter the EMD phase with immature technologies are likely to incur cost growth and schedule slippage—ultimately delaying the delivery of needed military capabilities to the warfighter.
We determined that NAVAIR adequately planned and performed a TRA of the critical technologies used on NGJ Mid-Band. NAVAIR established an independent team of subject matter experts (SMEs), referred to in this report as NAVAIR SMEs. The NAVAIR SMEs determined which of the program’s technologies were critical and needed to be demonstrated (through test events) in a relevant environment before entry into the EMD phase of the acquisition. After the test events were completed, the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering (ASD[R&E]) established a separate independent team of SMEs, referred to in this report as ASD(R&E) SMEs. The ASD(R&E) SMEs reviewed the critical technologies identified by the NAVAIR SMEs, along with the test results, and completed the TRA. The ASD(R&E) SMEs determined that the critical technologies in NGJ Mid-Band were adequately demonstrated in a relevant environment and were ready to proceed to EMD.
We also evaluated the test results for the critical technologies in increment one and found that they met performance requirements under the stresses of the relevant environment. Therefore, we determined that NAVAIR adequately planned and performed a TRA of the critical technologies for NGJ Mid-Band.
Management Comments and Our Response:
We did not make any recommendations; therefore, we did not require any comments and we are publishing this final report.