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Defense Acquisitions. Greater Synergies Possible for DOD's Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance Systems

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Nearly all of the ISR development programs that we reviewed have experienced some cost or schedule growth. Cost and schedule growth in these programs is largely the result of a poor business case or acquisition strategy that failed to capture sufficient knowledge about the product technologies and design before committing to the development and demonstration of a new system. For example, the Global Hawk program which experienced a 261 percent cost growth had significant overlap of technology maturation, design, and production. Significant delays in the delivery of some new systems, breaking the investment strategy for the new and legacy systems to be replaced established at the start of these acquisition programs, have required DOD to make additional unplanned investments in legacy systems in order to keep them relevant and operational longer than planned. For example, the termination of the Aerial Common Sensor development contract resulted in a 5-year delay and the need to modify three legacy systems to keep them in the field longer than planned. The cost to keep these systems capable is estimated at 1.4 billion between fiscal years 2008 and 2013, an increase of nearly 900 million over previous estimates to do so. These unplanned investments represent opportunity costs that could have been used for other needs within DOD had the original Aerial Common Sensor acquisition strategy been based on more robust design knowledge. Among the ISR acquisition programs we reviewed, we found specific cases where the military services have successfully collaborated to provide capabilities to the warfighter more efficiently and affordably. For example, the Army and Navy programs on their own initiative collaborated successfully on the Fire Scout to use a single contract to buy common components that can save hundreds of millions of dollars.

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  • Military Forces and Organizations
  • Defense Systems
  • Military Intelligence

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