Case Study of Risk Management in the USAF LANTIRN Program

by Susan J. Bodilly

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This case study was undertaken with seven researchers to develop a better understanding of the risks involved in weapon system development and whether government policies effectively aid in the management of those risks. This case focuses on the procurement of the Low-Altitude Navigation Targeting Infrared for Night (LANTIRN) system, an avionics system for single seat fighter jets. This case study indicated that strategic decisions concerning the management of the procurement increased the probability of poor outcomes. Initiated by the Air Staff under an urgent requirement, the program had ambitions far beyond the technical base of the time, used extensive concurrency to meet the urgent requirement, and was developed by an inexperienced SPO. The result was severe cost overruns and schedule delays. This result could have been prevented if technical requirements had been better explored early in the program, including more specific program definition and technical demonstration, before key management decisions were put in place.

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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