Cover: The Development of the Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missile

The Development of the Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missile

A Case Study of Risk and Reward in Weapon System Acquisition

Published 1993

by Kenneth R. Mayer


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In this case study of the AMRAAM program, Mayer examines weapons acquisition as a "political" process involving the perceptions and goals of many organizations. Technologically, the missile is a success, despite a development program that involved major schedule slips, substantial cost growth, and several major redesign efforts. Mayer concludes that external oversight can be counterproductive as it raises the likelihood that the system must respond to forces having little to do with performance or management. For example, overselling the program at the beginning can lead to serious difficulties when the inevitable technical problems make system performance and management look poor in relation to the original promises. In addition, formal structures and procedures designed to reduce uncertainty cannot be relied on to counter optimistic estimates of performance, schedule, or cost. Finally, he concludes that concurrent development programs and fixed price contracts are inappropriate for technically risky programs.

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

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