Defense Acquisitions: Charting a Course for Improved Missile Defense Testing Page: 4 of 15
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assets before all testing is completed, it has fielded some assets whose
capability is uncertain.
Because MDA develops and fields assets continuously, it combines
developmental testing with operational testing. In general, developmental
testing is aimed at determining whether the system design will satisfy the
desired capabilities; operational testing determines whether the system is
effective, survivable, and suitable in the hands of the user. MDA conducts
testing both on the ground and in flight. The most complex of these is an
end-to-end flight test that involves a test of all phases of an engagement
including detecting, tracking and destroying a target with an interceptor
missile. An end-to-end intercept involves more than one MDA element.
For example, a recent intercept test involved a target flown out of Kodiak,
Alaska, tracked by the AN/TPY-2 radar located in Alaska, and the Beale
upgraded early warning radar located in California, the Sea-based X-band
radar and an Aegis radar located at different points in the Pacific. All of
the radars communicated with fire control centers in Alaska to guide an
interceptor launched from California to hit the target over the Pacific
Due to the complexity, scale, safety constraints, and cost involved, MDA is
unable to conduct a sufficient number of flight tests to fully understand
the performance of the system. Therefore, MDA utilizes models and
simulations, anchored by flight tests, to understand both the
developmental and operational performance of the system. To ensure
confidence in the accuracy of modeling and simulation the program goes
through a process called accreditation. The models are validated
individually using flight and other test data and accredited for their
intended use. Models and simulations are used prior to a flight test to
predict performance, the flight test is then run to gather data and verify the
models, and then data is analyzed after the flight and reconstructed using
the models and simulations to confirm their accuracy.
MDA intends to group these models into system-level representations
according to user needs. One such grouping is the annual performance
assessment, a system-level end-to-end simulation that assesses the
performance of the BMDS configuration as it exists in the field. The
performance assessment integrates element-specific models into a
coherent representation of the BMDS. Fundamentally, performance
assessments anchored by flight tests are a comprehensive means to fully
understand the performance capabilities and limitations of the BMDS.
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United States. Government Accountability Office. Defense Acquisitions: Charting a Course for Improved Missile Defense Testing, text, February 25, 2009; Washington D.C.. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc290717/m1/4/: accessed August 17, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.