Improving Operational Suitability Through Better Requirements and Testing

by William Stanley, John Birkler

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This report proposes prescriptive actions that could increase the contribution made by requirements and test-and-evaluation (T&E) aspects of the weapon system acquisition process to the fielding of more operationally suitable Air Force systems. Actions are needed that will (1) correct chronic problems in the expression of operational suitability needs and requirements, (2) address the problem of fragmented operational requirements documentation, (3) expand contractual accountability for reliability-and-maintainability and logistics-support characteristics, (4) adjust acquisition policies to enhance T&E's contribution to decisionmaking and to the identification and correction of deficiencies, and (5) structure tests to demonstrate new operating concepts and capabilities. These actions could facilitate the consideration of suitability factors in acquisition process activities that address difficult tradeoffs among operational suitability, functional performance, cost, and development time.

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