Military Aircraft

Designing and fielding a fleet of technologically superior military aircraft is often an imperative for national and regional security, but the cost involved in acquiring and maintaining such fleets places a significant burden on defense budgets and can impact a nation's ability to project force. RAND research has provided policymakers with essential evaluations and recommendations to implement cost savings in the design, acquisition, and fielding of military aircraft.

  • Report

    Designing Unmanned Systems with Greater Autonomy: Using a Federated, Partially Open Systems Architecture Approach

    Many current unmanned systems (UxSs) employ different communication systems and have limited autonomy, which limit information sharing with warfighters and other UxSs. This report identifies ways to address these limitations.

    Sep 17, 2014

  • A sensor operator and pilot follow a vehicle with a remotely piloted aircraft in a flight training simulator

    Report

    Building Toward an Unmanned Aircraft System Training Strategy

    Unmanned aircraft systems — or drones — have become increasingly prevalent in and important to U.S. military operations. Training now needs to be integrated more formally and cost-effectively into service and joint training programs.

    Jul 28, 2014

  • A pro-Russian separatist at the crash site of a Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 in Ukraine's Donetsk region, July 17, 2014

    Commentary

    3 Weapons That Threaten Commercial Planes

    It's relatively rare that commercial aircraft are targeted with weapons built primarily to attack military aircraft, but there are a range of potential threats from such weapons. Given that Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was reportedly at 33,000 feet when contact was lost, it seems impossible that the attack could have occurred using a shoulder-fired missile.

    Jul 18, 2014

  • Northrop Grumman test pilots with arm-mounted controllers after successfully launching a drone combat aircraft on the USS George H. W. Bush, May 14, 2013

    Commentary

    Will U.S. Air Power Work in Iraq?

    There are many key questions regarding deployment of U.S. air power to Iraq to halt the progress of the Islamic State. How effective would it be? Would it cause a lot of civilian casualties? Is air power alone enough to achieve U.S. objectives?

    Jun 18, 2014

  • Fighters of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) stand guard at a checkpoint in Mosul, Iraq, June 11, 2014

    Commentary

    Obama's Iraq Dilemma

    On the surface, President Obama faces a classic foreign policy dilemma: The Iraqis are asking for U.S. military assistance to halt ISIS's dangerous offensive, but Obama has long promised the American people that he would withdraw the U.S. military from involvement in Iraq.

    Jun 17, 2014

  • t-call-experts-hr

    Multimedia

    Media Call on Armed Aerial Drones and U.S. Security

    Lynn Davis, Director of RAND's Washington office and senior political scientist hosted a news media conference call to discuss armed aerial drones and U.S. security.

    May 16, 2014

  • Report

    The Effectiveness of Remotely Piloted Aircraft in a Permissive Hunter-Killer Scenario

    This report analyzes the operational effectiveness of several new concepts for employing remotely piloted aircraft in a permissive hunter-killer mission.

    May 9, 2014

  • DPU Soldiers conduct cyber defense exercise

    Commentary

    Russia Hacks a U.S. Drone in Crimea as Cyberwarfare Has Gone Wireless

    For American audiences and policymakers alike, cyber activities in Crimea provide a chilling reminder that cyberspace is emerging as a 21st-century global battlefield.

    Apr 7, 2014

  • A U.S. Air Force MQ-1 Predator on its final approach to Indian Springs Auxiliary Field in Nevada

    Report

    Armed Aerial Drones and U.S. Security

    While armed drones are not truly transformative weapons, they do offer the United States some significant advantages, particularly against enemies that lack air defenses. How the United States uses these weapons today and into the future will be important in shaping a broader set of international norms that discourage their misuse by others.

    Apr 7, 2014

  • The Colorado River flows through Black Canyon, south of Hoover Dam

    Report

    RAND Review Examines Water Management, Military Caregivers, Joint Aircraft, Income Inequality

    Stories in RAND's flagship magazine discuss the implications of climate change for the Colorado River Basin and the Sierra Nevada, the burdens borne by military caregivers, the drawbacks of joint aircraft programs, and growing inequalities across the European Union.

    Apr 1, 2014

  • U.S. Navy F/A-18A Hornet, aka the Blue Angel

    Periodical

    Falling Short: Joint Aircraft Fail to Deliver Anticipated Savings

    A key purported benefit of joint aircraft is that they save money over separate aircraft for the military services, but joint aircraft programs have historically led to higher-than-expected lifecycle costs and necessitated major compromises in requirements and capability.

    Apr 1, 2014

  • An F-111C of the Royal Australian Air Force in 2006

    Event

    Do Joint Fighter Programs Save Money?

    Mark Lorell will discuss how historically, the need to accommodate different service requirements into a single design or common design family can lead to increased program complexity and cost growth that may cancel out the theoretical costs savings gained from a joint approach.

    Mar 28, 2014

  • congressional-podcast-teaser-highres

    Multimedia

    Do Joint Fighter Programs Save Money?

    In this March 28th Congressional Briefing, Mark Lorell discusses how the need to accommodate different service requirements into a single jet fighter design or common design family leads to increased program complexity and cost growth.

    Mar 28, 2014

  • F35s Diverging

    Research Brief

    The Department of Defense Should Avoid a Joint Acquisition Approach to Sixth-Generation Fighter

    Incorporating different service requirements in a single joint aircraft design can lead to greater program complexity, increased technical risk, and weight in excess of what an individual service needs.

    Jan 22, 2014

  • Blog

    Thomas V. Jones, Risk-Taking CEO Who Propelled Northrop's Expansion, Revolutionized Aerospace Industry

    Thomas V. Jones, the Stanford-educated engineer who authored a bestselling RAND report in the early 1950s on U.S. Air Force transport options before becoming chief executive of Northrop, died January 7 at the age of 93.

    Jan 17, 2014

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

    Commentary

    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

  • joint strike fighter maintenance

    Report

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

    The U.S. Air Force has long struggled to incorporate new weapon system logistics requirements and support system design considerations into its broader sustainment enterprise early in the acquisition process. RAND developed a framework that helps planners visualize sustainment data and compare new programs with legacy Air Force systems.

    Dec 20, 2013

  • Report

    Do Joint Fighter Programs Save Money?

    This report analyzes whether multiservice joint aircraft acquisition programs actually save Life Cycle Cost, and the implications that joint fighter programs can have for the health of the industrial base and operational and strategic risk.

    Dec 16, 2013

  • Report

    Do Joint Fighter Programs Save Money? Technical Appendixes on Methodology

    These appendixes explain the methodology used in an analysis of whether multiservice joint aircraft acquisition programs actually save Life Cycle Cost.

    Dec 16, 2013

  • preflight checks inside an F-35A Lightning II

    Commentary

    Innovation and America's 21st Century Air Force

    Lost in the US defense budget debates are deeper issues about the relationship between the military and American society. In many ways, these issues are especially stark for the Air Force. Can the US Air Force improve this connection?

    Nov 26, 2013