Defense contractors like Raytheon, Lockheed Martin, BAE Systems, Honeywell, and L3, and their suppliers have found ESPEC Qualmark’s technology to be an essential and cost-effective addition to their reliability programs.
Product reliability engineering is rapidly evolving, superseding military standards, handbooks, and references established decades ago and the military now seeks more modern, even commercially available solutions. Key Congressional Defense Committees and the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) have focused greater attention on Highly Accelerated Life Testing and Highly Accelerated Stress Screening (HALT/HASS) methodologies and processes to improve the reliability of critical U.S. missile defense programs.
- In report language in House Report 113-102 accompanying H.R. 1960, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2014, the House Armed Services Committee (HASC) directed the Director, MDA to assess the value, feasibility and cost of greater utilization of modern highly accelerated life testing and highly accelerated stress screening (HALT/HASS) testing equipment and processes and to report to the Congressional defense committees on his findings and recommendations.
- In response to the MDA Director’s report, the HASC has recommended directive report language be included in its report to accompany H.R. 4463, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2015.
The first piece of directive report language states:
- Requirement for Plan For Use of Highly Accelerated Life Testing and Highly Accelerated Stress Screening On March 4, 2014, the committee received a report from the Director, Missile Defense Agency in response to the committee report (H. Rept. 113-102) accompanying the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2014, concerning highly accelerated life testing and highly accelerated stress screening (HALT/HASS) testing of Ballistic Missile Defense Systems and Components. The committee believes this report was a useful review of the potential benefits and limitations of employing this rigorous review system in addition to current Missile Defense Agency (MDA) systems. The committee agrees with the Director's belief that HALT/HASS testing could be useful in certain future MDA efforts. Therefore, the committee directs the Director, Missile Defense Agency to submit to the Committees on Armed Services of the Senate and the House of Representatives in concurrence with the fiscal year 2016 budget submission a plan to employ HALT/HASS testing, as appropriate, in appropriate future MDA programs. The committee believes these efforts should be supervised in part by MDA and should be competitively awarded through full and open competition.
The second piece of directive report language is shown below (in excerpted form):
- Report on Reliability, Modernization and Refurbishment of the Ground-based Midcourse Defense Segment The committee recognizes the shift in the Administration’s missile defense policy to a priority on homeland defense as evidenced by the March 2013 Secretary of Defense announcement, made in response to an escalating intercontinental ballistic missile threat, to increase the ground-based interceptor (GBI) fleet by nearly fifty percent by 2017. The committee supports this position; however, there is concern that the Administration has not made a commensurate shift in funding for the Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) system to address long-standing issues that have manifested themselves in flight test failures, degraded reliability, escalating obsolescence, and erosion of margin of capability over the threat. The committee notes that the GMD system is approximately 10 years old and was originally designed for a 20-year service life. The committee supports efforts to close the gap between what it believes is needed as necessary investment in the GMD system and the proposed funding levels contained in the budget request. Therefore, the committee directs the Director, Missile Defense Agency to provide a report to the congressional defense committees not later than November 1, 2014, that evaluates the necessary resources to maintain the GMD system in future years to achieve no less than standard industry practices for strategically important peer systems (such as Minuteman, Trident D5, Terminal High Altitude Area Defense, and Aegis Standard Missile-3) for fleet upgrades, reliability confidence, obsolescence mitigation, and service-life assurance of capabilities against a threat that is growing in quantities and sophistication. The report should include, but not be limited to: … (2) Action plans, schedule, asset line-of-balance allocations, and by-year budget required to conduct a robust systems engineering approach for GBI ground testing to ensure confidence in system reliability, capability, and long-term sustainment. This should include robust GBI integration testing, Stockpile Reliability, Aging and Surveillance, Highly Accelerated Life Testing, and Highly Accelerated Stress Screening;….
The DOD, and especially through the efforts of the Department of Operational Test and Evaluation (DOT&E), is now driving initiatives and upping reliability standards to improve suitability of fielded systems. In 2009 the DOD adopted the standards in ANSI/GEIA – 0009, Reliability Program Standard for System Design, Development and Manufacturing, and in 2011, in his report to the National Academy of Science, the director of OT&E cited 16 important military suppliers that advocate use of Design for Reliability (DFR) activities. All but one are ESPEC Qualmark customers.
The Army wants suppliers to “not view reliability as just a Mean Time Between Failure (MTBF) but instead focus on building a product that has a sufficiently failure-free operating period.” In the AMSAA (Army Materiel Systems Analysis Activity) Reliability Best Practices guide, emphasis is placed on identifying failure mechanisms and taking corrective action to achieve design optimization, integrating Highly Accelerated Life Testing (HALT) and Highly Accelerated Stress Screening (HASS) as part of DOD supplier reliability programs.
ESPEC Qualmark accelerated reliability test technology provides actionable data essential to a well designed, DFR-focused program that incorporates closed-loop Failure Reporting And Corrective Action System (FRACAS), Failure Modes and Effects Analysis (FMEA) and Reliability Growth Testing (RGT) as recommended by AMSAA