Aerospace Weapon System Acquisition Milestones

A Database

by M. B. Rothman

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Critics of the weapons acquisition process have often asserted that it takes too long to achieve new operational capabilities. These declarations are seldom accompanied by quantitative evidence. This study is designed to add to the limited body of literature documenting major milestones in the acquisition history of weapon systems. It presents chronologies drawn from the unclassified literature and supplemented by data collected through direct contacts with project personnel. The data cover 50 aircraft, 24 helicopters, and 53 missiles developed since the mid-1940s. A limited analysis tenuously supports the idea that the period from the beginning of the demonstration-and-validation phase to the start of full-scale development has been lengthening over the past three decades. However, calendar date alone explains little of the program-to-program variance.

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