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An overview of 20 years of RAND research on aircraft development summarized in terms of individual development programs, development experience, buyer-seller interrelationships, and differing national contexts. Analysis of the development process revealed that there are diminishing returns to extensive preprogram planning, and that test hardware and prototypes can provide data for improved decisionmaking. For U.S. system acquisition policy, however, it is perhaps more important that decisionmaking be sequential, with real alternatives available, one being improvement of existing equipment. In the buyer-seller relationship, the question of who is really in technical charge of the program, the military program office or the industrial firm, might be resolved by a division of responsibility, allowing the military to find a cost-effective option for increasing force capability without being held responsible for technological success of every new development program. More efficient military development in the United States will require institutional change. Investigation of processes used in other countries may uncover demonstrably practical policies useful to the United States. (Prepared for presentation at the general session on the Philosophy of Aircraft Development of the 15th Annual Israel Conference on Aviation and Astronautics, Tel Aviv, Israel, March 14, 1973.)

This report is part of the RAND Corporation paper series. The paper was a product of the RAND Corporation from 1948 to 2003 that captured speeches, memorials, and derivative research, usually prepared on authors' own time and meant to be the scholarly or scientific contribution of individual authors to their professional fields. Papers were less formal than reports and did not require rigorous peer review.

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