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Enabling Early Sustainment Decisions: Application to F-35 Depot-Level Maintenance

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This report develops an economic-based framework that can be used to make weapon system sustainment sourcing decisions as part of a sustainment enterprise posture planning process. We demonstrate the use of this framework by applying it to a new weapon system, the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, to identify depot maintenance strategies at the aircraft subsystemtechnology level. To ensure that the affordability of the F-35 program is not threatened by continuing OS cost growth, the Air Force is examining alternative strategies to reduce those costs. The Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps, through the F-35 Joint Program Office, have determined that all depot-level repairs on the F-35 will have a core component. Having a core component means that the government will maintain the capability to perform some -- but not necessarily all -- repair work at a U.S. government facility. Core decisions are made to protect the services so that, in an event of a natural disaster, war contingency, or disruption in commercial-sector operations, the government will retain the capability to perform certain tasks. Air Force Materiel Commands Depot Operations Division has suggested that approximately 60 of the total depot maintenance workload for the F-35 falls into the core category. Thus, although the U.S. government will retain the capability to perform the range of depot-level repairs, 40 of the workload -- known as above core -- can be considered for sourcing to an organic Air Force facility, another military services facility, a foreign partner, or the private sector. DoD guidance states that above-core depot workloads should be assigned on the basis of a best-value determination. But this guidance does not specify how to determine best value. To help fill this gap, this report presents an approach to determining best value when assigning above-core depot workloads.

Subject Categories:

  • Attack and Fighter Aircraft
  • Economics and Cost Analysis
  • Logistics, Military Facilities and Supplies

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