Do Joint Fighter Programs Save Money?

About the Briefing

In planning for the next fighter aircraft—currently under consideration—the Department of Defense should avoid a joint acquisition approach. The prevailing thinking has been that building a single common fighter plane for use by two or three service branches would be less expensive in the long run. But RAND researchers examining this assumption found that, in fact, this common fighter approach does not save money overall and poses other risks and disadvantages compared to separate service-unique programs.

Mark Lorell discusses the recently released report, Do Joint Fighter Programs Save Money?, which found that 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.


About the Speaker

Mark Lorell is a senior political scientist at the RAND Corporation. For over 30 years he has been researching and writing on weapon system acquisition policies, defense industrial base issues, international weapon system collaboration, defense trade, and weapons procurement and industrial base policies of allies.