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T&E Renaissance Forum Shines Light on Challenges and Advances

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MARCOA Media
Story by Carol Lawrence on 09/04/2019
Testers and evaluators across the Navy are facing headwindsless money and time, fewer live targets and missiles, and more complex threatsat a time when adversaries and their weapons are, in some cases, surpassing the home team.

Those were amplified messages from the second annual T&E Renaissance Forum, hosted by Naval Surface Warfare Center, Port Hueneme Division, from July 30Aug. 1. The conditions are also why practitioners of test and evaluation, or T&E, say their methodologies must adapt and advance without losing essential rigor.

The forum is a mecca for experts of T&E and DOE, or Design of Experimentsa test execution and assessment processand updates attendees on new T&E directives and efforts.

Speaker Karl Glaeser, the Department of Navy T&E policy lead (OPNAV N942), discussed how the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) T&E team worked with the Scientific Test and Evaluation Techniques (STAT) Center of Excellence (COE) to develop a streamlined and efficient T&E approach supporting Developmental and Operational Testing (DT/OT) and program decisions.

By applying STAT principles, the LCS team significantly reduced time and resources spent characterizing system performance. Test days dropped to 60 from 169, and missiles and targets used fell to 185 from 235, Glaeser said.

"This is all about results," he added.

LCS and the Aegis program have paved the way for incorporating STAT as part of routine NAVSEA business practices, he said, and the new Frigate Program is the first program to incorporate STAT in T&E planning from program start.

Presenter LCDR Matthew Starr, DD(DTEP) Deputy Director Naval Warfare, told audience members that due to how fast technology is changing and eroding the Navy's once-competitive edge and prominent position of its combat capabilities, the Department of Defense (DoD) has eliminated heavy, traditional bureaucracy that slowed new systems and technology delivery.

In response, Developmental Test and Evaluation (DT&E) is focusing more on emerging technology and prototypes, and new avenues for procurement, Starr said.

Cyber, as one of 10 new "modernization" priorities, hasn't been "integrated into the original design" of systems, Starr said. It needs more priority among the T&E workforce.

Testing needs to be iterative, quickly identify vulnerabilities, develop and implement fixes and leverage testing from other naval organizations, he added.

Autonomous systems, another "modernization" priority, needs an updated testing methodology. The STAT COE is working to develop them, while DT&E is forming an autonomy course, Starr said.

The U.S. has fallen behind its competitors on the third priority, hypersonic technology, he said, and the T&E community "needs to figure out how to best test these defensive capabilities."

Chris Collins, NAVSEA Deputy for T&E, spoke about T&E's direction within naval warfare. A revised version of NAVSEA T&E policies is about to be released, he said.

There are new strategic drivers to think about such as complex systems and complex environments, speed, confidence and a better ability to characterize risk.

Regarding career progression, Collins is working on a NAVSEA T&E Campaign Plan and expects it to debut by September. Additionally, NSWC PHD will host T&E leadership in September. The department will also soon release a T&E career guide and establish a School of T&E.

Creating a T&E environment that addresses increasing system complexity, such as testing system of systems, is a challenge. Building targets to emulate threats is very expensive, Collins said.

"We have to leverage modeling and simulation; we have to look at other ways to really focus on what aspects require hardware to be built to get on a range to test," he added.

Live fire testing was a hot-button issue.

One audience member, who said he does many system qualifications trials at NSWC PHD, said live fire testing teaches things not learned with virtual testing.

Aegis Combat Systems Ship Qualification Trials (CSSQT) Manager and Test Officer Harold Norton, an audience member, also advocated for live fire tests.

"We need to go to ships, and we need to test," he said. "We're running out of targets; we're running out of missiles. We're in discussions with the fleet to see what we can do from a CSSQT perspective to better align live fire events with the fleet's Live Fire With A Purpose (LFWAP) events can we integrate together and get one event done and get something for each of us?"

Ken White, director of T&E at NSWC PHD, and forum organizer, said he remembered several years back when the Navy experienced a high failure rate in missile shots.

"That's what we're driving to without doing these tests," he said.

Timothy McLean, Marine Corps Tactical Systems Support Activity (MCTSSA), spoke on combining testing systems for cybersecurity threats and protections with STAT.

"This is partly about using a statistically-based method of test to defend how much cyber you have to do," he said.

That's important, he said, because as more cyber testing is donewhich is increasingly necessary as cyber-related threats rise and expandcosts will likely go up.

If testers and evaluators plan to use STAT in cybersecurity testing, they will need to automate the process, he said.

Speaker Elvis Acosta, performance assessment department head at NSWC Corona Division, questioned whether leadership's push for speed will cause T&E, particularly full-scale analysis, to lose its technical depth.

"I believe we will," he said. "We need the environment (leadership) to change."

NSWC PHD Technical Director Paul Mann, who initiated the T&E Renaissance Forum, agreed, saying the sacrifice is unacceptable.

"We've got major issues with major combatants," he said.

But, he added, further discussions could provide solutions.

"We are trying to figure it out," he said. "That's why we're here."

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