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As weapon-system production comes to an end, the question of whether, and what, tooling to store rather than dispose of arises. This report addresses the specific case of weapon system-specific production-only tooling for the C-17 cargo aircraft. Specifically, these are the tools that are not needed simply to keep the aircraft in good repair and that cannot be repurposed for other weapon systems. Storage is not free, so disposal of this tooling can be less costly than saving it. But such tooling might become necessary for a production restart or production of a variant, and making all-new tools can be expensive. Other things being equal, the higher the perceived probability of production restart, the greater the desirability of retaining production-only tooling. However, some tools cost more to store than they are worth. While the authors do not weigh in on the actual probability of a C-17 restart, they show which production-only tools should be retained and which should not given a perceived restart probability. They further note that time in storage is also a factor: If tools' values decline while in storage, tooling retention is less desirable.

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The research reported here was sponsored by the United States Air Force and conducted by RAND Project AIR FORCE.

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