Methodological Problems in Evaluating the Effectiveness of Military Aircraft Development

by Thomas K. Glennan, Jr.


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Cost data on thirteen military airframes are analyzed in an attempt to establish a relationship between development cost, aircraft attributes, development process qualities, and time as a basis for evaluating the effectiveness of military aircraft development. Among the problems encountered were the difficulty of defining development and measuring its cost, the inability to measure such conceptually important variables as development urgency and state-of-the-art advancement, the failure of the measures adopted to capture all the aspects of product quality that should be considered, and the limited sample size. Despite such difficulties, the study concludes that development time does not seem to influence development costs importantly; that state-of-the-art advance may have a negative relationship to development costs; that there is no evidence of productivity increases of the factors of development being taken out in the lowering of development costs; and that coordination of subcontracting efforts may raise development costs, particularly those associated with tooling and/or production.

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