Formulating Strategies for International Collaboration in Developing and Producing Defense Systems

by John Birkler, Mark A. Lorell, Michael D. Rich

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Advocates of greater international weapon-procurement collaboration among allies argue that sharing R&D costs for common systems, pooling R&D resources, rationally dividing up work tasks, and taking advantage of extended production runs can significantly reduce the costs of common weapon systems for the participating governments. But it is unclear whether these benefits can be delivered without unacceptable costs — even given the end of the cold war. Although DoD interests would probably be best served by avoiding such collaboration altogether, U.S. policymakers may feel that equipment collaboration could further the objectives of alliance leadership and management. This Issue Paper sets out a strategy that generates new concepts to perform needed military tasks, forces the involvement of firms from multiple nations, maintains competitive forces, and has each country financially supporting the share of the work performed by its industry — a paradigm that may minimize the inevitable penalties of collaboration.

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