The Laser-Guided Bomb

Case History of a Development

by Peter DeLeon


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A case study of a successful R&D product--the laser guided bomb (LGB). The narrative begins with the work of the Army's Missile Command at the Redstone Arsenal (1962), continues with the initial LGB prototype competition between Texas Instruments (TI) and North American-Autonetics (1966), details the decisions within Hq USAF to continue the development through the engineering prototype contract with TI (1968), and ends with the award of the acquisition contract to TI (1969). Six facets of the LGB development are analyzed: competitive prototype development; early and repeated testing of system hardware; interaction of technology and requirements in design and performance specifications; incremental development; delegation of development decisions; and the availability of contingency development funds. These six features, working interactively, provided a flexibility in development that produced a low-cost, high-performance system within a relatively short time frame.

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