B-2 Radar Challenges

The Air Force will face difficulty in fully vetting the new radar system for the B-2A bomber during initial operational test and evaluation drills due to the “marginal performance” of the radar in development testing, according to the recently released Fiscal 2008 report from the Pentagon’s director of operational test and evaluation. The report states that the B-2 radar modernization program experienced delays due to design manufacturing changes, radar software performance, and fleet-wide grounding following the February 2008 crash of a B-2 on Guam. These factors precluded the program from completing all planned developmental testing events on the original schedule. And, “Due to the limited number of dedicated IOT&E flight hours and the numerous changes in configuration throughout developmental testing, it may be difficult to fully characterize system suitability using IOT&E data alone,” the report states. As a result, DOT&E recommends that the test events not performed in development testing be completed in IOT&E to get a full picture of the radar’s operational performance. To note: When the Air Force let the production contract for the new radar at the end of December, it said the contract award was built upon a recent series of “successful initial operational test and evaluation flight tests.”