This paper takes issue with those in the defense community who suggest that the way to get low-cost production of defense hardware is for the government to rely on continued attempts to achieve stable, long-term purchases of the kind that would exploit the efficiency of the traditional production line, which is set up to produce a single design, in large quantities, over long periods of time. The authors' view is different. They believe that what is needed is not marginal improvements in the way hardware is funded and contracted for, but a breakthrough in the way it is produced. And such a breakthrough is promised by the emerging flexible manufacturing technologies. Therefore, the means of production rather than the buyer is now the appropriate focus for reforms in defense acquisition policy.
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