The Future of Military R&D: Towards a Flexible Acquisition Strategy
INSTITUTE FOR DEFENSE ANALYSES ALEXANDRIA VA
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The U.S. will have difficulty maintaining its technological superiority for future military systems, due to declining defense budgets, lower levels of production for weapon systems, and great uncertainty regarding future military requirements. What is needed is a military RD system that generates technological options of sufficient quality and in sufficient numbers so that, in spite of the uncertainty they face, U.S. forces can be fully prepared to meet a wide range of contingencies. The paper explores the attributes of a flexible acquisition strategy, in which numerous options would be explored from basic research budget category 6.1 through advanced development 6.3A. Programs would enter full development 6.4 less often and more selectively, and not every 6.4 development program would be expected to reach production. The paper recommends and discusses seven actions that are important elements of a flexible acquisition strategy for RD. DoD should 1 reaffirm that maintaining superior technological options remains a vital strategic objective, 2 increase funding for science and technology ST, 3 treat RD as a product in its own right, 4 increase the use of prototyping, 5 improve the development of technological options for modifying existing systems, 6 increase the use of commercially available technology, and 7 consider the need for mobilization in weapon system designs.
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