Mark A. Lorell

Photo of Mark Lorell
Adjunct Political Scientist
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 an adjunct political scientist at the RAND Corporation. 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 45 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/benefit analysis, with an emphasis on tactical fighter aircraft, space systems, and improving overall schedule outcomes. 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, his M.A. from the Univeristy of California, Berkeley, and his B.A. from Yale University.

Previous Positions

Senior Political Scientist, RAND Corporation

Recent Projects

  • Cost-effectiveness of joint tactical fighter programs
  • Assessment of past international aircraft spares pooling programs
  • Assessing savings from past aircraft multiyear procurement programs
  • Improving schedule outcomes in major defense acquisition programs
  • Causes of cost growth in Major Defense Acquisition Programs

Selected Publications

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

Mark A Lorell et al., A Review of Selected International Aircraft Spares Pooling Programs: Lessons for F-35 Spares Pooling., RAND Corporation (RR-999-AF), 2016

Mark A. Lorell et al., Extreme Cost Growth: Themes from Six U.S. Air Force Major Defense Acquisition Programs., RAND Corporation (RR-630-AF), 2015

Mark A Lorell, Do Joint Fighter Programs Save Money?RAND Corporation (MG-1225-AF), 2013

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 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., 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

Commentary: Aviation Week & Space Technology; Breaking Defense


  • 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