'Vital army system delayed by 7 years,' State Comptroller finds

Classified Ground Forces program suffered indefinite setbacks and still isn't ready, costing IDF operational capabilities; Defense Ministry: System passed trial, now being deployed to units

IDF soldiers on tank near Gaza border 311 (R) (photo credit: REUTERS/Amir Cohen)
IDF soldiers on tank near Gaza border 311 (R)
(photo credit: REUTERS/Amir Cohen)
A classified system designed to enhance the military’s ground forces is seven years behind schedule, and the delay is affecting the IDF’s capabilities, State Comptroller Joseph Shapira said in a report made public on Tuesday.
The system was supposed to go online at the end of 2005. At the time of the writing of the report, November 2012, the army system is still under development, Shapira wrote with concern.
The most that can be said about the system in question is that it is meant to serve military formations, and increase their operational effectiveness. In order to be installed, technological and infrastructural challenges had to be overcome.
Responding to the report, the Defense Ministry said it develops many technologies and advanced weapons systems for operational uses, and that real technological difficulties inevitably arise in the course of development, leading to delays.
In the case specified in the report, the Defense Ministry and IDF Ground Forces Command carried out “a series of steps visa- vis the developing company that strengthened its commitment to the project, and which eventually allowed for a technological breakthrough, leading to a successful trial of the new system. The system is now in the hands of an IDF unit as part of a pilot program, before being deployed to the remainder of units that are due to receive it,” the ministry added.
According to the report, the Defense Ministry signed a contract with a private corporation, known as Company A, to develop, engineer, produce, test, and adapt the system, at a cost of NIS 212.9 million, and a further $27.9m. in US military aid.
Company A in turn hired a foreign company as a subcontractor. But in 2005 and 2006, the project was reorganized and integrated into another project, and the subcontractor was replaced, causing a delay of several more years. An updated timetable, set in 2005, wasn’t met, and as of 2012, “there is a long way to go complete the project,” the report added.
The State Comptroller criticized the Ground Forces Command, and the Defense Ministry’s Administration for the Development of Weapons and Technological Infrastructure, for the very lengthy delay.
“The system was supposed to serve all of the IDF’s formations, but it isn’t in service in any of them,” the report said.
In September 2012, former deputy chief of staff Maj.-Gen. Yair Naveh ordered the Ground Forces Command to present a new project that “takes the existing situation to optimum capabilities (rather than maximum capabilities)” and which would allow system to go online in 2013, the report said.
But the the IDF General Staff and Defense Ministry did not formulate such a plan.
Shapira said the Defense Ministry “should have taken advantage of program’s rearrangement to implement the project and create conditions that will strengthen Company A’s commitments to meeting the requirements.”
He added that a forum meant to meet four-times-a-year to oversee the project’s development ended up meeting just three times in the space of four years, between 2008 and 2012.
Additionally, the Weapons Division in the Ground Forces Command reported to the IDF’s C4I Branch on the status of project once a year, rather than the required six months.
Now, Ground Forces formations “are based on alternative system that does not answer all operational requirements,” the report stated.
It found faults in the management and systematic monitoring of project.