Mark A. Lorell

Photo of Mark Lorell
Senior Political Scientist; Professor, Pardee RAND Graduate School
Santa Monica Office


Ph.D. in modern European military and diplomatic history, University of Washington; M.A. in European military and diplomatic history, University of California, Berkeley; B.A. in modern European history, Yale University

Media Resources

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Mark A. Lorell is a senior political scientist at the RAND Corporation and a professor at the Pardee RAND Graduate School. He specializes in weapon system acquisition policies, defense industrial base issues, international weapon system collaboration, defense trade, and weapons procurement and industrial base policies of allies. He is the lead author or coauthor of more than 40 RAND reports and books. He is also the author of a variety of published articles, book chapters, and a widely reviewed commercial book on the collaborative development of the FS-X fighter with Japan (Troubled Partnership: A History of U.S.–Japan Collaboration on the FS-X Fighter, Transaction Publishers Rutgers University, New Brunswick and London, 1996).

Lorell's current work focuses on optimal weapon system acquisition and cost analysis policies, with an emphasis on unmanned aerial systems, tactical fighter aircraft, and space systems. In February 2008, Lorell received the RAND President's Award in recognition of "his significant collection of research on strategies and processes for acquiring complex defense systems, both in the United States and other countries, and his production of numerous reports that are now standard military-history reference sources." Lorell received his Ph.D. from the University of Washington.

Recent Projects

  • Cost-effectiveness of joint tactical fighter programs
  • Assessment of the Weapon System Acquisition Reform Act
  • History of the U.S. military aircraft defense industrial base and the role of competition and innovation
  • Future roles and missions for unmanned aircraft
  • Causes of cost growth in Major Defense Acquisition Programs

Selected Publications

Obaid Younossi et al., Improving the Cost Estimation of Space Systems: Past Lessons and Future Recommendations, RAND Corporation (MG-690-AF), 2008

Obaid Younossi et al., F-22A Multiyear Procurement Program: An Assessment of Cost Savings, RAND Corportation (MG-664-OSD), 2007

Mark A. Lorell et al., Price-Based Acquisition: Issues and Challenges for Defense Department Procurement of Weapon Systems, RAND Corporation (MG-337-AF), 2005

Mark Lorell et al., "Headlines over the Horizon: Defense Industry Goliaths," The Atlantic Monthly, 2003

Mark A. Lorell et al., The U.S. Combat Aircraft Industry 1909-2000: Structure, Competition, Innovation, RAND Corporation (MR-1696-OSD), 2003

Mark A. Lorell et al., Going Global? U.S. Government Policy and the Defense Aerospace Industry, RAND Corporation (MR-1537-AF), 2002

Mark A. Lorell et al., Cheaper, Faster, Better? Commercial Approaches to Weapons Acquisition, RAND (MR-1147-AF), 2000

Mark A. Lorell, Troubled Partnership: A History of U.S.-Japan Collaboration on the FS-X Fighter, Transaction Publishers, 1996

Honors & Awards

  • RAND President's Award, RAND Corporation
  • Yale Book Award, Yale University

Recent Media Appearances

Interviews: Chicago Tribune; History Channel


  • The KC-46A Pegasus aerial refueling aircraft takes off on its maiden flight from Paine Field in Everett, Washington, December 28, 2014

    Lessons from the Past for the Future of the KC-46A

    Analysis suggests that fixed-price contracts have not successfully reduced costs to the DoD associated with developing complex weapon systems. This has implications for the Air Force, given the importance of the ongoing KC-46A program.

    Sep 16, 2015 Breaking Defense

  • A U.S. Air Force F-22 Raptor flying at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska

    Where Commonality Can Work in a Sixth-Gen Fighter

    The DoD plans to fund a Darpa-Air Force-Navy technology demonstration program aimed at developing critical sixth-generation fighter capabilities. It's a sign that the Pentagon is adopting a cost-effective strategy but it will need to remain vigilant to avoid the pitfalls that have caused previous joint fighter programs to fall short of hoped-for cost savings and to accept unwelcome design compromises.

    Mar 13, 2015 Aviation Week & Space Technology

  • F/A-18C Hornets fly from Andersen Air Base, Guam, during exercise Forger Fury II, 5 December, 2013

    Do Joint Fighter Programs Save Money?

    Joint aircraft programs have not historically saved overall life cycle cost. On average, such programs experienced substantially higher cost growth in acquisition (research, development, test, evaluation, and procurement) than single-service programs.

    Dec 24, 2013 The RAND Blog