An Analysis of Weapon System Acquisition Intervals, Past and Present
Critics of weapon system acquisition frequently claim that management process changes during the 1960s and 1970s caused the acquisition cycle to lengthen. A review of three classes of aerospace systems--aircraft, missiles, and helicopters--shows that over the past 30 years the time from the beginning of full scale development to delivery of the first operational item has changed only slightly, but average production rates have fallen by half. The planning phase corresponding to today's Phase I (from Milestone I to Milestone II) has nearly doubled, and the introduction of Phase Zero may have added still more time, but evidence on Phase Zero effects is still tenuous. Opportunities for shortening the acquisition cycle time appear to lie mainly in flexible application of the regulations governing approval of the Mission Element Need Statement (MENS), and in some cases the Services should be allowed to proceed simultaneously with Phase Zero, and even Phase I, studies while the MENS is being reviewed.
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THE PLANNING PHASE
HARDWARE DEVELOPMENT AND PRODUCTION PHASE
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14 October 200th delivery 28 September a i rc raft acquisition cycle acquisition intervals airframe analysis announces April Army Navy Air August Aviation Week beginning of full-scale Boeing Boeing-Vertol bomber changes contractors contracts awarded Convair cost Date Event Source December decision Definitive contract delivered design competition development contract DSARC engine Enters operational service February fighter Flight International flight test formal full-scale development GAM-77 Hound Dog Grumman helicopter initial January July June Letter contract lnitial Lockheed March McDonnell Douglas Milestone missile months per decade Navy Air Force North American Northrop November October operational delivery percent Phase Zero studies planning phase preproduction procurement production aircraft production contract production delivery proposals prototype flight prototype phase requirement rotor sample SECDEF September significance probability Sikorsky SM-64 Navaho SRAM Strategic Air Command supersonic trend U.S. Army U.S. Navy USAF USMC weapon system