Do Joint Fighter Programs Save Money?
Dec 16, 2013
This report analyzes costs and savings of joint aircraft acquisition programs, whether historical joint aircraft programs have saved Life Cycle Cost (LCC) over single-service programs, whether the Joint Strike Fighter is on track to achieving the originally anticipated LCC savings, and the implications of joint fighter programs for the industrial base and for operational and strategic risk.
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In the past 50 years, the U.S. Department of Defense has pursued numerous joint aircraft programs, the largest and most recent of which is the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF). Joint aircraft programs are thought to reduce Life Cycle Cost (LCC) by eliminating duplicate research, development, test, and evaluation efforts and by realizing economies of scale in procurement, operations, and support. But the need to accommodate different service requirements in a single design or common design family can lead to greater program complexity, increased technical risk, and common functionality or increased weight in excess of that needed for some variants, potentially leading to higher overall cost, despite these efficiencies. To help Air Force leaders (and acquisition decisionmakers in general) select an appropriate acquisition strategy for future combat aircraft, this report analyzes the costs and savings of joint aircraft acquisition programs. The project team examined whether historical joint aircraft programs have saved LCC compared with single-service programs. In addition, the project team assessed whether JSF is on track to achieving the joint savings originally anticipated at the beginning of full-scale development. Also examined were the implications of joint fighter programs for the health of the industrial base and for operational and strategic risk.
Historical Joint Fighter and Other Joint Aircraft Programs:Analysis of Savings and Costs
Joint Strike Fighter Program: Analysis of Savings and Costs
Additional Implications of Joint Aircraft Programs
The research described in this report was sponsored by the United States Air Force and conducted by RAND Project AIR FORCE.
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