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The rising demand for more reliable military equipment has generated questions on the net benefits and appropriate strategies for obtaining reliability. This paper examines the costs of achieving greater reliability, the benefits of improved reliability in reduced support costs and increased availability, and strategies for attaining reliability goals. The author considers several kinds of evidence: reliability improvement programs, new product developments, statistical analyses of reliability costs and outcomes in new programs, and a review of a broad range of cases analyzed in other studies. He also examines seven systems in detail: F-18 aircraft, CH-47D helicopter modernization, F100 turbine engines, the Phalanx Mk15 close-in weapon system, the LAMPS MKIII helicopter antisubmarine warfare system, the Minuteman I inertial navigation system, and the Carousel inertial guidance system. Based on the data, the author concludes that reliability improvements are possible, that the greater the improvement the more costly the necessary investment, and that the improvement probably rises proportionally faster than the investment.

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