Warranties for Weapons

Theory and Initial Assessment

by James P. Stucker, Giles K. Smith

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Warranties have been selectively applied to weapon systems acquisition over several decades. However, in 1983 Congress passed the first law requiring that military contractors provide warranties on all major weapons sold to the Services. Such blanket application raises issues both of tailoring warranties to the wide range of weapons and acquisition environments and of proper implementation policy and procedural guidelines. This study concludes that warranties can have a positive effect on selected acquisition programs. Analysis of pre-law warranties suggests that factors contributing to warranty success include specific, easily measurable objectives; explicit contractor incentives and remedies; explicit government duties; and reasonable prices and expectations. An initial survey of post-law warranties, however, reveals that many warranties do not appear to adequately detail either their objectives or the remedies to be applied if those objectives are not met.

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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