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Do Joint Fighter Programs Save Money? Technical Appendixes on Methodology

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Joint aircraft programs, in which two or more services participate in the development, procurement, and sustainment of a common aircraft design, are thought to save life cycle cost LCC by eliminating duplicate efforts and realizing economies of scale. In theory, joint programs have more potential to save costs than multiple comparable single-service programs by sharing total research, development, test, and evaluation RDTE expenditures on a common design, and achieving economies of scale in production and operations and support OS. But the need to accommodate different service requirements in a single design or common design family may lead to greater program complexity, increased technical risk, and common functionality or increased weight in excess of that needed for some service variants, potentially leading to higher overall cost despite these efficiencies. The fundamental question we seek to answer is this On average, are the theoretical savings that should accrue from joint aircraft programs sufficient to offset the additional costs arising from greater complexity In short, do joint fighter and other aircraft programs cost less overall throughout their entire life cycle than an equivalent set of specialized single-service systems RAND Project Air Force analyzed the costs and savings of joint tactical aviation acquisition programs to determine whether a joint approach achieves the anticipated cost savings. The study team examined whether historical joint aircraft programs, and the Joint Strike Fighter JSF in particular, have saved LCC compared with comparable notional single-service programs. The team also examined the implications of joint fighter programs for the health of the industrial base and for operational and strategic risk. The major study findings are documented in a separate report. This report provides a series of appendixes that detail the methodology behind the study findings.

Subject Categories:

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

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