work already done by others (such as the Air Force Institute of Technology’s [AFIT’s] published systems engineering case studies1), the presentations made to the committee on a sample of Air Force programs, and the knowledge and judgment of its members developed through long experience with such programs.

The committee examined the formal systems engineering case studies that had been completed by AFIT’s Center for Systems Engineering. The AFIT case studies were based on the Friedman-Sage systems engineering case study methodology. 2 Each of the AFIT studies addressed the full program life cycle, including the early phases of a program (they were not specifically or strongly focused on pre-Milestone A, however).

For other programs the committee examined, the committee could not conduct analyses equivalent to the AFIT case studies. As the sponsor and committee anticipated, the committee did not find a wealth of data or proven models that could be used to strongly link a program’s pre-Milestone A systems engineering effort with later program outcomes. Still, these programs yielded lessons learned that applied to the study charge.

The programs summarized in this chapter are these:

  • Space Based Infrared Systems (SBIRS),

  • Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM),

  • Future Combat Systems (FCS),

  • F-16 Fighting Falcon,

  • Turbine engine development: fighter jet engine,

  • Military Satellite Communications (MILSATCOM),

  • C-5A, and

  • B-2 Stealth Bomber.

These examples were chosen to illustrate the diversity of programs to which SE is applied: for example, from relatively simple systems such as JDAM to complex systems of systems such as FCS and MILSATCOM.

For brevity, program histories are summarized here; more detailed histories of the programs summarized by the committee can be found in the references provided in footnotes in this report. Other programs also considered in the committee’s deliberations are mentioned in this chapter and, while not summarized herein, can be accessed through the published documents referenced in this report.


Air Force Center for Systems Engineering Case Studies. Available at the website of the Air Force Institute of Technology at Last accessed on November 20, 2007.


See G. Friedman and A.P. Sage, 2005, “Case Studies of Systems Engineering and Management in Systems Acquisition,” Systems Engineering 7(1):84-97. The “Friedman-Sage” (F-S) SE case study methodology was used in the generation of the AFIT case studies; however, the AFIT case studies went well beyond the F-S methodology in the interview process and so on.

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