learning required to perform it more effectively and efficiently could have substantial payoff in freeing up personnel and budgets for other needs.
Applications of technology have enabled weapon systems that not only perform more effectively but also are more reliable and more maintainable than their predecessors. Part of this trend is attributable to a natural evolution of technology—for example, the replacement of vacuum tube electronics by solid-state devices and the replacement of steam turbine engines in ships by gas turbines. The panel expects such trends to continue with, for example, next-generation gas turbine engines, replacement of much hydraulic and mechanical equipment with electromechanical devices, and possibly even the development of electric-drive ships. The panel notes also plans to reduce the numbers of different types of ships, aircraft, and other weapon systems in the forces. Such consolidations should have a marked and beneficial effect on logistic workloads.
Given whatever logistic workloads the design of forces and weapons presents, however, the panel believes that the greatest beneficial impact on readiness will come from exploiting information technology to improve logistical support practices. Information technology promises to change fundamentally the way logistic activities are performed. It will provide all participants in the business of producing and supporting weapon systems the knowledge to make “best” decisions throughout a weapon’s life cycle. This access to information, when and where needed and in the form needed, will enable the logistic system to function as an integrated process focused on weapon system readiness.
The key over the next 5 to 10 years will be managing the various applications of information technology in a way that, in fact, creates the integrated process that is possible. This will entail using information technology to bring together the acquisition process, configuration management, computer-based maintenance training, troubleshooting and repair, equipment performance monitoring, and parts supply. In the following sections, the panel describes how information technology can change the way logistic tasks are accomplished in each of the above-listed areas and how it can contribute to creating a simulation-based acquisition (SBA) process to enhance weapon system readiness.
Logistic considerations traditionally and, in part, necessarily have followed performance considerations in the design and operation of weapon systems. Development of support equipment, technical data, training packages, and provisioning plans could not be pursued in earnest until system designs had stabilized. Logisticians were presented with a design they were to support, having had little input into its reliability or maintainability characteristics. The support system that evolved often was poorly matched to the weapon system it supported and often remained that way throughout the system’s life. The result was a cumber