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D Technology Readiness Levels A general description of technology readiness levels is provided in Table D.1. TABLE D.1 General Description of Technology Readiness Levels TRL Number Description 1. Basic principles observed and reported. 2. Technology concept and/or application formulated. 3. Analytical and experimental critical function and/or characteristic proof of concept. 4. Component and/or breadboard validation in laboratory environment. Lowest level of technology readiness. Scientific research begins to be translated into applied research and development. Examples might include paper studies of a technology's basic properties. Invention begins. Once basic principles are observed, practical applications can be imagined. The application is speculative and there is no proof or detailed analysis to support the assumption. Examples are still limited to paper studies. Active research and development is initiated. This includes analytical studies and laboratory studies to physically validate analytical predictions of separate elements of the technology. Examples include components that are not yet integrated or representative. Basic technological components are integrated to establish that they will work together. This technology is relatively low-fidelity compared with the eventual system. Examples include integration of ad hoc hardware in a laboratory. 118
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APPENDIX D TABLE D.1 Continued 119 TRL Number Description 5. Component and/or breadboard validation in relevant environment. 6. System/subsystem model or prototype demonstration in a relevant environment. 7. System prototype demonstration in an operational environment. 8. Actual system completed and "flight qualified" through test and demonstration. 9. Actual system "flight proven" through successful mission operations. Fidelity of breadboard technology increases significantly. The basic technological components are integrated with reasonably realistic supporting elements so that the technology can be tested in a simulated environment. Examples include high-fidelity laboratory integration of components. Representative model or prototype system, which is well beyond the breadboard tested for TRL 5, is tested in a relevant environment. Represents a major step up in the technology's demonstrated readiness. Examples include testing a prototype in a high-fidelity laboratory environment or in a simulated operational environment. Prototype near or at planned operational system. Represents a major step up from TRL 6, requiring the demonstration of an actual system prototype in an operational environment, such as in an aircraft, vehicle, or space. Examples include testing the prototype in a test bed aircraft. Technology has been proven to work in its final form and under expected conditions. In almost all cases, this TRL represents the end of true system development. Examples include developmental test and evaluation of the system in its intended weapon system to determine if it meets design specifications. Actual application of the technology in its final form and under mission conditions, such as those encountered in operational test and evaluation. In almost all cases this is the end of the last "bug fixing" aspects of true system development. Examples include using the system under operational mission conditions.
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