have addressed portions of the material covered in this report.10,11,12,13,14,15,16 Importantly, however, no previous report was expressly limited to addressing the topic of early-phase technology development that is the focus of this study.

Studies of major defense systems acquisition are certainly not in short supply. Over the previous half-century there have been literally scores of such assessments, and their findings are remarkably similar: Weapons systems are too expensive, they take too long to develop, they often fail to live up to expectations. A central question for a reader of this report has to be—What makes this study any different?

The answer is, in a word, technology, and its development and integration into Air Force systems. From those early days of Hap Arnold, it was the capable development, planning, and use of technology that set the Air Force and its predecessors apart from the other services. That technological reputation needs to be preserved—some would say recaptured—if the Air Force is to continue to excel in the air, space, and cyberspace domains discussed later in this chapter.

One cause of this technological challenge is that, for a variety of reasons, the Air Force has lost focus on technology development over the past two decades. The Kaminski report makes clear that Air Force capabilities in the critical areas of systems engineering and Development Planning were allowed to atrophy. These declines had their origins in legislative actions, financial pressures, demographics, workforce development, and a host of other sources. But altogether, they led to a


NRC. 2008. Pre-Milestone A and Early-Phase Systems Engineering: A Retrospective Review and Benefits for Future Air Force Systems Acquisition. Washington, D.C.: The National Academies Press.


NRC. 2010. Achieving Effective Acquisition of Information Technology in the Department of Defense. Washington, D.C.: The National Academies Press.


Assessment Panel of the Defense Acquisition Performance Assessment Project. 2006. Defense Acquisition Performance Assessment Report. A Report by the Assessment Panel of the Defense Acquisition Performance Assessment Project for the Deputy Secretary of Defense. Available at https://acc.dau.mil/CommunityBrowser.aspx?id=18554. Accessed June 10, 2010.


Gary E. Christle, Danny M. Davis, and Gene H. Porter. 2009. CNA Independent Assessment. Air Force Acquisition: Return to Excellence. Alexandria, Va.: CNA Analysis & Solutions.


Business Executives for National Security. 2009. Getting to Best: Reforming the Defense Acquisition Enterprise. A Business Imperative for Change from the Task Force on Defense Acquisition Law and Oversight. Available at http://www.bens.org/mis_support/Reforming%20the%20Defense.pdf. Accessed June 10, 2010.


USAF. 2008. Analysis of Alternative (AoA) Handbook: A Practical Guide to Analysis of Alternatives. Kirtland Air Force Base, N.Mex.: Air Force Materiel Command’s (AFMC’s) Office of Aerospace Studies. Available at http://www.oas.kirtland.af.mil/AoAHandbook/AoA%20Handbook%20Final.pdf. Accessed June 10, 2010.


DoD. 2009. Technology Readiness Assessment (TRA) Deskbook. Prepared by the Director, Research Directorate (DRD), Office of the Director, Defense Research and Engineering (DDR&E). Washington, D.C.: Department of Defense. Available at http://www.dod.mil/ddre/doc/DoD_TRA_July_2009_Read_Version.pdf. Accessed September 2, 2010.

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