The Civil Reserve Air Fleet

An Example of the Use of Commercial Assets to Expand Military Capabilities During Contingencies

by Mary E. Chenoweth

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This Note documents the Civil Reserve Air Fleet (CRAF) as a case study on the use of commercial assets to augment military capabilities during contingencies or national emergencies. The CRAF illustrates some of the issues one might expect to find in a similar program using civil and commercial satellites. Both contend with the problem of providing an appropriate mix of incentives to participate, both must overcome or cope with design incompatibilities between commercial and military systems, and both must balance the need to maintain a high state of readiness and responsiveness with the need to maintain high participation levels. While solutions that work for CRAF may or may not be transferable to space-based systems, the CRAF does provide an example of how one defense program addressed these basic problems and continues to do so as industry's and the military's needs evolve.

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