Improving avionics acquisition and support from conceptualization through operations

by Jean R. Gebman, Hyman L. Shulman

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Because avionics require such large investments and such long acquisition times, military services must set high performance requirements to ensure that new equipment will perform effectively against threats that will materialize during what should be a long life of useful service. High requirements, however, force designers to choose advancing technologies and complex integrations among types of equipment. While such choices cast much of the mold for subsequent support challenges, the full consequences of such choices surface only after cumulative operational experience defines trends that highlight weak points in equipment supportability. The key to more supportable avionics lies in an approach to acquisition and support that begins with the equipment's concept exploration stage and follows through the equipment's full life of service. This paper discusses contemporary challenges to avionics supportability and proposes changes to acquisition and support processes that should be beneficial to supportability. It then shows how certain tradeoffs between performance and supportability at the concept formulation stage could enhance the benefits of the proposed changes.

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