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Barriers to Managing Risk in Large Scale Weapons Systems Development Programs

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Managing the development of a major weapon system is, to a great extent, the management of risk. Top managers in the Air Force and its contractors will aim at managing development in such a way that the risks of shortfalls in performance or unacceptable development times and costs are monitored and controlled. This report integrates the findings of seven case studies of major weapon system development efforts. It attempts to understand how the actions of major actors, including the System Program Office SPO, supervising command, Air Force Headquarters, Department of Defense DoD, the contractors, and Congress, interact to shape the character and levels of risk inherent in a development and to manage that risk throughout the development. The systems that are subjects of the case studies were chosen to represent a wide spectrum of development tasks and levels of risk and include the following 1 B-1B Bomber 2 Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile AMRAAM 3 Low- Altitude Navigation Targeting Infrared for Night System LANTIRN 4 F100-PW- 220 and F110-GE-100, Alternate Fighter Engines AFE 5 Space Elements of the Global Positioning System GPS 6 F-16Multinational Staged Improvement Program MSIP and 7 Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System Joint STARS. The studies, written largely from the perspective of the SPO, examine the management of risk during full-scale development but often reach back to the important planning and development activities in earlier stages of the acquisition process.

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  • Bombers
  • Administration and Management
  • Air- and Space-Launched Guided Missiles
  • Infrared Detection and Detectors
  • Active and Passive Radar Detection and Equipment
  • Jet and Gas Turbine Engines

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