Test & Evaluation

Operational Test & Evaluation (OT&E)

Operational Test and Evaluation (OT&E) (10 USC 2399) is a fielded test, under realistic combat conditions, for a Major Defense Program (MDP) of any item or component of a weapons system, equipment, or munitions for the purposes of determining its operational effectiveness and operational suitability for combat. OT&E is defined in Title 10, United States Code (U.S.C.), Sections 139 and 2399. To ensure test adequacy, OT&E testing should only incorporate validated, accredited threat representations unless coordinated with Director, Operational Test, and Evaluation (DOT&E). [1,3]

Operational Test and Evaluation (OT&E) Purpose

The purpose of OT&E is to test a system in the actual or simulated environment that it was designed for with users of the system in realistic operational conditions. This will determine if the system is operationally effective and operational suitability for combat.

Operational Test and Evaluation (OT&E) References

DoD Instruction 5000.02 lists mandatory elements of OT&E planning and execution.

Guide: DAU Test and Evaluation Management – Chapter 11

Guide: DoD Test and Evaluation Management – Chapter 10

Operational Test and Evaluation (OT&E) Main Evaluation Criteria

The main OT&E evaluation criteria are to determine if a system is Operationally Effective, Operationally Suitabable, and Survivable. Below is a detailed breakdown of each criteria.

  • Operational Effectiveness: A measure of the overall ability of a system to accomplish a mission when used by representative personnel in the environment planned or expected for operational employment of the system considering organization, doctrine, tactics, supportability, survivability, vulnerability, and threat. [1]
  • Operational Suitability: The degree to which a system can be placed and sustained satisfactorily in-field use with consideration being given to availability, compatibility, transportability, interoperability, reliability, wartime usage rates, maintainability, safety, human factors, habitability, manpower, logistics supportability, natural environmental effects and impacts, documentation, and training requirements. [1]
  • Survivability: Includes the elements of susceptibility, vulnerability, and recoverability. As such, survivability is an important contributor to operational effectiveness and suitability. A survivability assessment should be conducted for all systems under OT&E oversight that may be exposed to threat weapons in a combat environment or to combat-induced conditions that may degrade capabilities, whether or not the program is designated for Live-Fire Test and Evaluation (LFT&E) oversight. [3]

Operational Test and Evaluation (OT&E) Centers

In each of the Services, operational testing is conducted under the auspices of an organization that is independent of the development agency, in environments as operationally realistic as possible, with hostile forces representative of the anticipated threat and with typical users operating and maintaining the system. Each services organization is listed below: [1]

Operational Test and Evaluation (OT&E) Authority

Operational testing of a major defense acquisition program may not be conducted until the Director of Operational Test and Evaluation of the Department of Defense approves (in writing) the adequacy of the plans (including the projected level of funding) for operational test and evaluation to be conducted in connection with that program.   The Director shall analyze the results of the operational test and evaluation conducted for each major defense acquisition program. At the conclusion of such testing, the Director shall prepare a report for the Secretary of Defense stating the completeness or incompleteness of the test. [2]

AcqLinks and References:

Updated: 6/21/2021

Rank: G1

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