and achieved over time through the application of refined technical understanding and the development and insertion of new materials and processes. New technology also found its way into the maintenance process through the introduction of refined detection apparatus and enhanced repair protocol. In an environment of rapid replacement of old systems with new ones, this strategy has been sustainable with modest maintenance costs. In the present and projected future, however, with limited new system procurement anticipated, a new strategy must govern the introduction of new technology and its impacts on sustainment of the warfighters’ requirements to carry out their assigned missions.
The combination of an aging fleet of aircraft with new aircraft whose technology has been primarily utilized to improve the performance of Air Force weapon systems has created a large sustainment cost problem for the Air Force. This problem has been made worse as the size of the Air Forces’ fleet has decreased and some aircraft, although small in overall numbers (e.g., the B-2), require a huge sustainment effort to keep them “mission ready.” Many examples illustrate how the injection of technology into an existing aircraft system has increased reliability and thereby greatly reduced the sustainment burden of the system (e.g., the F-100 engine required maintenance at 6,000 tacs vs. 4,000 tacs). That said, the non-recurring cost of injecting technology into existing aircraft may impede Air Force acceptance even when the life-cycle cost of not introducing that technology is greater. Although some Air Force technology initiatives have focused on reducing the Air Forces’ sustainment burden, in general technology development remains primarily focused on enhanced performance. In addition, programs that historically have been utilized to inject technology into the existing fleet have been weakened or no longer exist.
Although much of the new technology investment in the laboratory is originally targeted at new systems, it may find its way into existing systems. Maintenance depots are increasingly the locale for the insertion of this new technology into legacy systems and those under acquisition but in modification sequence. Sustainment will also continue to be an integral part of new system development as the Air Force focuses attention on its program of Integrated Life-Cycle Management (ILCM).
In this chapter, the implications of ILCM for the technology development and insertion processes will be explored; a broad survey of the array of relevant technologies identified; current technology development and transition processes described and analyzed; and suggestions made for improvement. The breadth of the technical areas and the broad charge outlined in the TOR preclude an in-