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Introduction

Prototyping has historically been of great benefit to the Air Force and Department of Defense (DoD) in terms of risk reduction and concept demonstration prior to system development, both during austere budget environments and at other times. Specifically, prototyping has advanced new technologies, enhanced industry workforce skills between major acquisitions, and dissuaded adversaries by demonstrating new capabilities. Importantly, prototyping enabled U.S. technological surprise through classified technologies.1 Over the last two decades, however, many issues with prototyping have arisen. As examples, the definitions and terminology associated with prototyping have been convoluted, and budgets for prototyping have been used as offsets to remedy budget shortfalls. Additionally, at times, prototyping has been done with little strategic intent or context.2

It is against this backdrop that the Air Force requested the Air Force Studies Board of the National Research Council to plan and moderate this workshop to enhance Air Force and DoD prototyping for the new defense strategy. The terms of reference (TOR) for this workshop (see Appendix B) called for examination of a wide range of prototyping issues, individual recommendations for a renewed prototype program, addressing particular program elements, attention to the application of prototyping as a tool for technology/system development and sustainment

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1 David Walker, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Science, Technology, and Engineering, personal communication to Terry Jaggers, National Research Council. April 9, 2013.

2 Ibid.



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OCR for page 1
1 Introduction Prototyping has historically been of great benefit to the Air Force and Depart- ment of Defense (DoD) in terms of risk reduction and concept demonstration prior to system development, both during austere budget environments and at other times. Specifically, prototyping has advanced new technologies, enhanced industry workforce skills between major acquisitions, and dissuaded adversaries by demonstrating new capabilities. Importantly, prototyping enabled U.S. techno- logical surprise through classified technologies.1 Over the last two decades, how- ever, many issues with prototyping have arisen. As examples, the definitions and terminology associated with prototyping have been convoluted, and budgets for prototyping have been used as offsets to remedy budget shortfalls. Additionally, at times, prototyping has been done with little strategic intent or context.2 It is against this backdrop that the Air Force requested the Air Force Studies Board of the National Research Council to plan and moderate this workshop to enhance Air Force and DoD prototyping for the new defense strategy. The terms of reference (TOR) for this workshop (see Appendix B) called for examination of a wide range of prototyping issues, individual recommendations for a renewed pro- totype program, addressing particular program elements, attention to the applica- tion of prototyping as a tool for technology/system development and sustainment 1 David Walker, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Science, Technology, and Engineer- ing, personal communication to Terry Jaggers, National Research Council. April 9, 2013. 2 Ibid. 1

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2 Enhancing Air Force and D e pa rt m e n t of D efe n s e P r o t o t y p i n g (including annual funding), positive and negative effects of a renewed program, and consideration of additional topics. To help focus the very broad range of topics covered at the workshop on Sep- tember 24-26, 2013, in Washington, D.C., several questions involving a description of prototyping, as well as its value and best practices, were posed to the workshop participants (see Appendix C, “Workshop Agenda”). Given the vast amount of prototyping expertise of the presenters and other participants, the scope of the presentations and discussions was necessarily comprehensive (see Appendix D, “Workshop Participants.” and Appendix E, “Speaker Abstracts”). The remainder of this workshop summary is organized primarily around eight major themes, specifically (1) prototyping and its many definitions; (2) the value of prototyping; (3) tying prototyping to strategy; (4) prototyping as an agent for change; (5) proto- typing as a versatile tool; (6) prototyping as a means to empower people; (7) funds and incentives for prototyping; and (8) a technology development strategy.