Shooting Missiles At Aircraft: Live Fire Test and Evaluation (LFT&E) | Aviation


MANPAD Live Fire Tests on KC-46 and F-35 (Courtesy of Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division)

Military platforms need to undergo Realistic Survivability Testing.

Live Fire Test & Evaluation (LFT&E) is part of an experimental testing procedure for military procurement of systems and munitions, specifically of which addresses the United States Code Title 10, Section 2366; “Major systems and munitions programs: survivability testing and lethality testing required before full-scale production”. This is something that covers both vehicles and munitions as well.

Thus, LFT&E is split in two, where covered systems (such as vehicles, weapon platforms, and conventional weapon systems that are designed to provide some degree of protection to users in combat) are subject to Realistic Survivability Testing. This tests for “vulnerability of the system in combat by firing munitions likely to be encountered in combat (or munitions with a capability similar to such munitions) at the system configured for combat, with the primary emphasis on testing vulnerability with respect to potential user casualties and taking into equal consideration the susceptibility to attack and combat performance of the system.”

On the other hand, missile programs or major munitions programs (a program that more than 1,000,000 rounds are planned to be acquired) undergo Realistic Lethality Testing. These munitions are tested for “lethality by firing the munition or missile concerned at appropriate targets configured for combat”.

Each platform that undergoes LFT&E will deliver two reports to US Congress before Full Rate Production Decision is met. The Live Fire Test & Evaluation report and Beyond Low Rate Initial Production Report is issued by the Director of Operational Test & Evaluation and sent directly to US Congress, some of which are made public after approval by the US House of Representatives Committee on Armed Services. The scope of testing can vary greatly depending on…

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