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As military systems have become more complex, testing has become more time consuming and costly. A number of efficiencies have been proposed and implemented, such as increasing use of modeling and simulation and combining developmental and operational testing. How have these approaches worked in practice? And do traditional metrics for estimating the cost of testing still apply? This study addressed these issues by examining system-level testing for selected fixed-wing aircraft, missiles and guided munitions programs. The actual times and costs appear to be largely in step with the increasing complexity of the systems and test programs, so the proportion of development costs that the testing represents has not changed markedly. Although the available data are not sufficient to isolate the effects of discrete initiatives, some, such as modeling and simulation and combined testing, have empirically demonstrated their value on a variety of programs. The authors provide cost estimating methodologies and reference information on the programs they studied.

The research reported here was sponsored by the United States Air Force and conducted by RAND Project AIR FORCE.

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