Acquisition Process

Live-Fire Test and Evaluation (LFT&E)

Live-Fire Test and Evaluation (LFT&E) is an assessment of the vulnerability and lethality of a system as it progresses through Developmental Test & Evaluation (DT&E) prior to Full-Rate Production (FRP). LFT&E typically includes testing at the component, subassembly, and subsystem level, and may also draw upon design analyses, modeling and simulation, combat data, and related sources such as analyses of safety and mishap data.

Guide: DoD Test and Evaluation Management Guide – Dec 2012

LFT&E is guided by a statutory requirement for “realistic survivability testing” or “realistic lethality testing” as defined in (10 USC 2366). A system can go thru Early and Full Up LFT&E.  One of the purposes of conducting LFT&E early in the program life cycle is to allow time to correct any design deficiency demonstrated by the test and evaluation.

Types of Development Test & Evaluation (T&E)

There are three (3) specific types of DT&E are:

  1. Production Acceptance Test & Evaluation (PAT&E)
  2. Live-Fire Test & Evaluation (LFT&E)
  3. Product Qualification Testing (PGT)

Purpose of Live-Fire Test & Evaluation (LFT&E)

The purpose of LFT&E is to evaluate the survivability and lethality of a system in the acquisition development phase to determine if there are any design issues that need to be corrected before that system enters into full-rate production and goes operational.

Live-Fire Test & Evaluation (LFT&E) should accomplish the following:

  • Provide information to decision-makers on potential user casualties, vulnerabilities, and lethality, taking into equal consideration susceptibility to attack and combat performance of the system;
  • Ensure that knowledge of user casualties and system vulnerabilities or lethality is based on testing of the system under realistic combat conditions;
  • Allow any design deficiency identified by the testing and evaluation to be corrected in design or employment before proceeding beyond Low-Rate Initial Production (LRIP); and
  • Assess recoverability from battle damage and battle damage repair capabilities and issues.

Live-Fire Test & Evaluation (LFT&E) Strategy

The LFT&E Strategy for a given system should be structured and scheduled so that any design changes resulting from the testing and analysis, described in the LFT&E Strategy, may be incorporated before proceeding beyond LRIP.

Live-Fire Test & Evaluation (LFT&E) Waiver

The Live-Fire Test and Evaluation (LFT&E) Waiver is from the legal statute in 10 USC 2366 that requires “Full-Up, System-Level Testing (FUSL), realistic survivability testing”.  The statute requires a LFT&E program to include FUSL testing unless a waiver is granted.  A waiver package must be sent to the Congressional defense committees prior to Milestone B. This should occur at the time the Test and Evaluation Master Plan (TEMP) is approval.

Live-Fire Test & Evaluation (LFT&E) Report

The Live-Fire Test & Evaluation (LFT&E) Report must be sent to Congress prior to the Full-Rate Production Decision (FRPD) in the Acquisition Life Cycle. It’s required from all programs covered by the Live Fire Testing Section in Title 10, US Code. The LFT&E Report informs Congress of the results of Lethality and Vulnerability testing.  The report is prepared by the Director, Operational Test and Evaluation (DOT&E) on survivability and lethality testing.


  • LFT&E has a statutory requirement to emphasize personnel survivability for covered systems occupied by U.S. personnel (10 USC 2366).
  • “Covered system” is the DoD term that is intended to include all categories of systems or programs requiring LFT&E. – A “covered system” means a system that Director, Operational Test and Evaluation (DOT&E), acting for the Secretary of Defense, has designated for LFT&E oversight.
  • For a program deemed not o need LFT&E, a waiver package must be sent to the Congressional defense committees prior to Milestone B

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Updated: 7/17/2021

Rank: G1

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