Acquisition cycle timeroughly speaking, the development lead time to field a working system once we have identified a need for a new materiel solutionis a hot topic in defense circles. This work takes a data-driven look at historical and current acquisition program cycle times. We show that the trend toward longer cycle times over the past few decades is restricted to a handful of high-profile programs, which has profound implications for effective policy response. We also show evidence that cycle times are driven by system complexity, and that schedule slip is associated primarily with overly optimistic schedule estimates. We conclude with a discussion of the increasing importance of software for development lead times, and the general problem of trading capability for timeliness in acquisition programs.