AF test ranges fall behind in date code work

Systems officials at some ranges seek more funds
to fix mission-critical systems, the report said.





Managers at some of the Air Force’s test ranges were unaware of year 2000 problems
and failed to manage date code repair, the Defense Department inspector general reported
this month.


The IG audited four of the service’s eight major range and test facilities: Arnold
Air Force Base, Tenn.; Edwards Air Force Base, Calif.; Eglin Air Force Base, Fla.; and
Nellis Air Force Base, Nev.


Not only were senior managers at one range not aware of year 2000 problems, the IG
said, there was a lack of guidance by managers at all levels, the report said.


Senior managers at Nellis Test Warfare Center didn’t know about the seriousness of
the date code problem, the report said, nor did they know they were required to list their
systems in the Air Force Communications Agency’s year 2000 database. The database
serves as an inventory of systems the service needs to fix.


The report, Year 2000 Computing Problem at Air Force Major Range and Test Facilities,
concluded that the Arnold and Eglin test ranges will probably complete renovation on time.
Edwards and Nellis are still assessing systems to determine what fixes are needed, the IG
said.


The ranges cited in the report test weaponry such as aircraft, missiles, bombs and
other munitions. As part of that testing, they must make sure the weapons systems will run
after Dec. 31 next year.


But fixing the test systems apparently won’t be easy, according to the IG report.
The Air Force Flight Test Center at Edwards, for example, is still identifying and
repairing code in the system that schedules flight tests of missiles and aircraft.


Unless it is fixed, technicians will have to revert to manual scheduling, which they
haven’t used since 1981, the report said. That could create delays in test flight
schedules, the IG said.


Systems officials at some ranges want more money to fix mission-critical systems, the
report said.


The Air Force Development Test Center at Eglin needs $3.3 million to renovate its
systems for the Guided Weapons Evaluation Facility.


The guidance system links with the Preflight Integration of Munitions and Electronics
System so technicians can track and evaluate weapon accuracy and stability during flights.


Eglin officials will have to shut down the guided weapons facility until systems are
renovated, which will interrupt the testing schedule, Air Force officials said.


In addition, officials at Arnold Air Force Base have designated the Nuclear Weapons
Effect Computer System as mission-impaired, which means the system is not up to the
service’s requirements. The system provides safeguards during radiation testing.


If the Air Force doesn’t fix its systems, critical warfighting functions such as
combat, communications, surveillance and air traffic control could collapse, the report
said.


The IG recommended that the Air Force Test and Evaluation and Air Force Operations and
Training directorates do whatever it takes to get the systems fixed and tested by December
1999.


John Manclark, director of test and evaluation at Air Force headquarters in the
Pentagon, agreed with the IG’s recommendations.


Manclark said his office would track the progress of the ranges.

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