SLAMRAAM Program Slammed by Inspector General
Key AMRAAM derivatives include a ground-launched version intended to provide short-medium range mobile anti-aircraft coverage and cruise missile defense. In the USA, the derivative is known as SLAMRAAM, or CLAWS (by the US Marines, who withdrew in 2006). Internationally, Norway and the Netherlands have bought ground-launched AMRAAMs as part of a Raytheon/ Kongsberg system called NASAMS.
The DoD Inspector General found that the Army needed to “rebaseline” the $623 million contract due to “contractor technical difficulties” and “increased contract costs” – and blames the Army. The Army disagrees. Meanwhile, field testing has begun.
SLAMRAAM includes 4 sub-systems:
- IFCS. The Integrated Fire Control Station is a vehicle-mounted shelter with 2 workstations, and is used to control the system. It is currently envisaged as mounted on Hummers, despite their mobility issues on difficult terrain.
- Fire Unit. The launcher. Currently envisioned as being mounted on a Hummer. Most photos show 6 missiles mounted, and reports range from 4-8 missiles.
- The missiles. The same AIM-120 AMRAAM missiles used in air-air engagements. Other countries like France or Israel who have converted shorter-range MICA and Derby missiles for the surface-air role have added fast-burn rocket boosters to boost range and engagement speed. Using the same AMRAAM missile simplifies logistics, at the price of a booster’s benefits.
- The Sentinel Radar. By the ThalesRaytheon joint venture. Acts as the system’s radar, and is described by the manufacturer as “a highly mobile, three-dimensional, phased-array, ground-based air defense radar system that operates in the X-band. It automatically detects, tracks, identifies, classifies and reports airborne threats, including helicopters, high-speed attack aircraft, cruise missiles and unmanned aerial vehicles.” Product Page | First delivery: April 2006.
Some key exceprts from the December 2007 Inspector General report follow, along with related summaries:
“As of July 2007, the program’s funding… totaled $622.5 million, with $208.3 million in [RDT&E funds] and $414.2 million for procurement of hardware (including 69 fire units, 35 integrated fire control stations, 55 [AMRAAM missiles], and 30 sensor kits to be installed on the Sentinel Radar. We determined that the Army could have more cost effectively prepared the ground for the low-rate initial production decision as evidenced by the need for the SLAMRAAM program office to rebaseline the development contract because of contractor technical difficulties and program funding shortfalls that resulted in increased contract costs.”
The inspector General’s most damaging finding was that Raytheon’s systems engineering management plan lacked criteria for the Army to review and manage progress on technical, cost and schedule goals, making it difficult to define success in meeting program requirements. For example, Boeing-Huntsville’s subcontractor work on the SLAMRAAM control system increased by 67% from an original $18.9 million estimate to $31.5 million. Formal reporting from the DCMA office with oversight over Boeing-Huntsville to the DCMA office with responsibility for SLAMRAAM was reportedly non-existent, and the informal reporting was missing critical information like cost and schedule analysis. The Inspector General suggested that this had a role in the cost increase of Boeing’s work.
The project manager disagreed on the record, and stated that the key issues leading to rebaselining were “the contractor failed to follow established engineering processes, Congress denied Army requests during 2006 for additional funding to cover contractor overruns, and the Marine Corps withdrew from the program in 2006.”
The Inspector General replied, more or less, that they’d have to agree to disagree. Speaking of agreement and disagreement:
“The Acting Director, [DCMA] and the Project Manager, Cruise Missile Defense Systems [agreed] with, or proposed actions meeting the intent of, recommendations for updating the [MoU]… to reference current policy and establish an annex linking performance metrics and standards to [SLAMRAAM's desired capabilities]. The Acting Director [disagreed] with making surveillance plans or activity annexes [mandatory]… .because their commitment is not to the activities that make up the strategy, but to the results noted in the body of the [Memorandum of Agreement]. [Following the IG's recommendation would leave them] committed not only to the desired results, but to a strategy that may need to change…”
“The Project Manager, Cruise Missile Defense Systems [agreed to] revising the draft systems engineering plan to include entrance and success criteria for planned technical reviews… revising the draft capability production document for the SLAMRAAM to establish measurable and testable capability requirements but [disagreed] with defining the probability of a successful data transmission and launcher operation as a key performance parameter [on the grounds that this would be quantified just before the LRIP decision as total end-end performance], but the Army Director of Combat Developments, US Army Air Defense Artillery School agreed with both recommendations.”
Those testable performance requirements will be important, as the Low Rate Initial Production decision on SLAMRAAM is expected by 2010. If the go-ahead is given, SLAMRAAM will begin to replace vehicle-mounted Stinger missiles in the US Army’s inventory with a larger, longer-range missile.
The audit also states, however, that even if “SLAMRAAM could fully meet all key performance parameters” that are currently spelled out, it could “still be of little value, if it cannot meet system effectiveness requirements.” Further details on the point were redacted.
The Inspector General did publicly elaborate on its issues with information security that “places the information contained in the SLAMRAAM system at greater risk of loss, misuse, or unauthorized access to or modification of the information contained in the system.” This sounds serious. Reading to page 20 of the report, however, reveals that the process they did follow was a guideline called DIACAP, which was being developed by the Pentagon but not yet approved for implementation. The DoD CIO issued DIACAP guidelines before full review from the Office of the secretary of Defense, and the Army CIO directed the office to follow those interim guidelines, instead of the existing DITSCAP set.
It sounds good in the press release, therefore, but it’s hard to tell if there’s really much substance to that particular charge.
July 23/08: Raytheon announces that SLAMRAAM has successfully completed system field integration testing at White Sands Missile Range, NM. Avenger fire units with Stinger missiles received targeting data directly from the SLAMRAAM system allowing precise slew-to-cue of the gunner turret to targets. SLAMRAAM and Patriot units also exchanged and displayed unit position and air track data to form a common operational air picture.
May 5/08: A Raytheon release says that SLAMRAAM completed its first system field test on March 3/08 at White Sands Missile Range, NM. The test system included 2 integrated fire control stations, 2 fire units, 2 SLAMRAAM sensors, and a sensor emulator.
The government-provided targets were used to complete 5 planned mission runs, and all primary objectives were accomplished: Radars tracked the target set; the target tracks were correlated, including triangulation of strobe tracks; the integrated air picture was distributed over a netted and distributed radio network; simulated engagements were conducted on all runs; and the system reportedly demonstrated communications on the move and successful real time reconfiguration of its command and control structure. System field testing is planned to continue through May 2009.
Additional Readings & Sources
- DID (May 28/09) – $30M to Raytheon for SLAMRAAM Long-Lead Production
- Project On Government Oversight (Feb 12/08) – Army Missile Program Dependent on Flawed Contractor Plan Requirements Shortfalls Could Result in Weapon “Of Little Value”
- US DoD Inspector General Audit (#D2008-032, Dec 26/07) – Acquisition of the Surface-Launched Advanced Medium Range Air-Air Missile [PDF]. Hosted by POGO following a successful Freedom of Information Act request.