Preplanned Product Improvement and Other Modification Strategies

Lessons From Past Aircraft Modification Programs

by Frederick Biery, Mark A. Lorell


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Pre-Planned Product Improvement (P3I) is a weapon system acquisition strategy formulated in the late 1970s in response to the high development costs of new systems, lengthening acquisition intervals, increasing age of current inventories, constrained budgets, and various technology trends. It is founded on the assumption that quality enhancement modification of existing inventory systems is a cheaper and quicker way to modernize than the development of entirely new systems. The P3I strategy is aimed at facilitating this process; its central element is the design of new systems from their origins to accommodate future quality upgrades. Discussion of the merits and disadvantages of P3I, however, remains abstract and theoretical. This Note reviews the circumstances that led to the formulation of P3I, clarifies the implications of the concept and offers an initial assessment of the policy as applied to aircraft systems based on a careful and extensive examination of past major aircraft modification efforts. The authors conclude that long-range pre-planning during the design stage is impractical.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation Note series. The note was a product of the RAND Corporation from 1979 to 1993 that reported other outputs of sponsored research for general distribution.

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