Air Combat Group (ACG) integrated the JASSM system onto the F18 Hornet to provide a long-range, stand-off precision strike capability to Australia. As the first Airforce to use the JASSM system on the F18 “Hornet” platform, significant integration challenges were faced in ensuring the capability functioned correctly with the aircraft, its mission planning systems and ground support equipment. The final stage of the acquisition required the conduct of an end-to-end Operational Test and Evaluation (OT&E) program, to fully exercise the new capability.
Nova Systems was engaged to develop and conduct a 5-stage OT&E campaign to fully exercise the system as each component became available. A comprehensive Measures of Effectiveness and Measures of Performance matrix was used to underpin detailed test planning, with the entire program designed to ensure the system interfaces were known and testable; and the whole result-set could be recombined to demonstrate end-to-end performance.
Nova Systems also worked to ensure that knowledge of the system capabilities were transitioned to the operational community through development of training, publications and liaison. Nova Systems’ operational experience was key in this, providing an interface between the engineering project acquiring the system, and the military operators who would ultimately own the capability. In 2011, the test team obtained the necessary approvals to conduct a live firing of two JASSM missiles at the Woomera test facility.
The Nova Systems test lead oversaw the complete successful test activity and ACG were able to declare an initial operating capability a short time later. This project highlighted the need for a single, continuous, agency to retain control of complex OT&E activities over the project lifespan; as well as the need for effective liaison between the operational and engineering communities is of paramount importance.