Military Equipment

Cost growth in the development and fielding of technologically advanced military equipment has become a major economic burden for many nations and is expected to be an enduring and prevalent problem. RAND research has provided cost analyses and recommendations to help policymakers and military leaders develop improved cost-estimating tools and formulate policies that mitigate cost growth in weapon system acquisition practices.

  • Italian air force F-35 and Eurofighter Typhoons fly in formation over Italy during a training mission, courtesy photo, U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa

    Report

    European Contributions to NATO's Future Combat Airpower

    European air forces currently have limited capabilities for defending allies in high-intensity conflict. However, Europe's airpower is trending in the right direction, especially with the introduction of fifth-generation aircraft.

    Oct 22, 2020

  • North Korean leader Kim Jong Un speaks during the 13th Political Bureau meeting of the 7th Central Committee of the Workers' Party of Korea (WPK) in this image released June 7, 2020 by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency, photo by KCNA/Reuters

    Commentary

    North Korea Has Agreed to Denuclearization. Trump Could Try to Make It Happen

    President Trump came into office determined to rein in the North Korean nuclear weapons program. But it has become quite clear that North Korea has no intention of giving it up. How might the United States bring North Korea into compliance with its denuclearization commitments?

    Sep 28, 2020

  • Tool

    A Modeling Framework for Optimizing U.S. Air Force Fighter Pilot Access to Advanced Training Ranges

    This tool presents the technical details of an optimization model for the U.S. Air Force to analyze the potential effectiveness of different combinations of range upgrades and squadron restationing to improve access to advanced ranges.

    Sep 24, 2020

  • A nuclear-powered Type 094A Jin-class ballistic missile submarine of the Chinese People's Liberation Army Navy is seen during a military display in the South China Sea, April 12, 2018, photo by Stringer/Reuters

    Journal Article

    Winning Friends and Influencing People: Naval Diplomacy with Chinese Characteristics

    This report provides an overview of the PLAN's approach to naval diplomacy, focusing on its activity outside maritime East Asia, in what it calls the "far seas."

    Sep 11, 2020

  • Report

    Evaluating Alternative Maintenance Manpower Force Structure Concepts for the F-35A

    The authors of this report evaluate the costs and benefits of maintenance manpower force structures in the U.S. Air Force that merge maintenance career fields in different ways, including alternatives that are being explored by the Air Force today.

    Sep 3, 2020

  • North Korean leader Kim Jong Un visits a drill of long-range artillery sub-units of the Korean People's Army, March 2, 2020, photo by KCNA/Reuters

    Report

    How Does North Korean Leadership Make Decisions?

    With talks between the United States and North Korea at a standstill, U.S. policymakers must consider what the regime might do next and know what signs or decisions to look for. Will Kim open the DPRK economy? What if conventional deterrence fails on the Korean Peninsula? And what could lead to the use of nuclear weapons?

    Aug 20, 2020

  • The U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, D.C., photo by lucky-photographer/Getty Images

    Blog

    Summer Reading List for Congress

    During the August recess Hill staff should have an opportunity to step back from the fast pace of votes and hearing preparation to examine priorities for the fall and beyond. This list of must-read research and commentary covers some policy issues they will likely be addressing after the break.

    Aug 18, 2020

  • Russian Sukhoi Su-57 fighter jets perform during a demonstration flight at the MAKS-2019 air show in Zhukovsky outside Moscow, Russia, August 29, 2019, photo by Tatyana Makeyeva/Reuters

    Commentary

    Russia's Su-57 Heavy Fighter Bomber: Is It Really a Fifth-Generation Aircraft?

    Russia's Su-57 aircraft has been in development since 2002 and is considered a key part of Russia's arms export industry as a fifth-generation fighter. Despite continued Russian efforts to sell the aircraft, it is unlikely that a fully developed and full production–ready Su-57 will be available for sale before the late 2020s.

    Aug 17, 2020

  • A missile is seen launched during a military drill in North Korea, May 10, 2019, photo by Korean Central News Agency via Reuters

    Commentary

    In North Korea, The U.S. Could Take the Lead

    North Korea is hurting: its economy is stagnant and it is having trouble feeding even its elites because of the UN/U.S. sanctions designed to pressure North Korean toward denuclearization. A combined carrot and stick approach may help overcome some of North Korea's reluctance to negotiate the future of its nuclear weapons program.

    Aug 17, 2020

  • Members of Japan's Self-Defence Forces' airborne unit attend the annual SDF ceremony at Asaka Base in Asaka, north of Tokyo, Japan, October 14, 2018, photo by Kim Kyung-Hoon/Reuters

    Commentary

    Missing in Japan's Deterrence Debate

    Following its decision to cancel the Aegis Ashore ballistic missile defense system, Japan is currently debating future deterrence capabilities. The debate over how Japan can defend itself is an important one, offering a major opportunity to shape the country's future defense posture.

    Aug 13, 2020

  • The U.N. Security Council's five permanent members (P5) attend a Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons conference in Beijing, China, January 30, 2019, photo by Thomas Peter/Reuters

    Commentary

    Negotiating with Great Powers on Nuclear Arms

    New START, the U.S.-Russia arms control treaty, expires in February 2021. Washington insists that any follow-on accord must include China. But overcoming Beijing's reticence to engage in nuclear talks will likely take deft diplomacy, time, and patience.

    Aug 3, 2020

  • North Korean and South Korean Flags

    Multimedia

    Rising Tensions Between the Two Koreas

    RAND policy analyst Soo Kim describes how the United States, South Korea, and Japan might respond to North Korea's recent provocations.

    Jul 27, 2020

  • A Standard Missile (SM) 3 Block IIA is launched from the Aegis Ashore Missile Defense Test Complex at the Pacific Missile Range Facility at Kauai , HI, December. 10, 2018, photo by U.S. Army

    Commentary

    Is Japan's Interest in Enemy Base Attack Capabilities a Good Idea?

    In the span of a month, Tokyo has rapidly gone from canceling a ballistic missile defense system to considering strike capabilities against foreign adversaries. Is Japan on the precipice of dramatically changing the way it uses its military?

    Jul 17, 2020

  • A view of a damaged building after a fire broke out at Iran's Natanz Nuclear Facility, in Isfahan, Iran, July 2, 2020, photo by Wana News Agency/Reuters

    Commentary

    An Israeli Escalation Against Iran?

    Israeli involvement in recent attacks on Iran would not be surprising, and more such attacks might be coming. However, Israel's bet that the Iranians will not respond is risky. It's hard to control escalation when things are so volatile, especially as hardline Iranian leaders may increase pressure to retaliate.

    Jul 15, 2020

  • Detroit police line up next to an armored vehicle following a rally against the death in Minneapolis police custody of George Floyd, in Detroit, Michigan, June 1, 2020, photo by Rebecca Cook/Reuters

    Commentary

    How to Reform Military Gear Transfers to Police

    Police officers equipped like soldiers have appeared on the streets of American cities amid recent protests over George Floyd's killing. How should lawmakers reform a program that makes use of excess equipment and is popular with police departments, but that also raises substantial concerns about the militarization of policing?

    Jul 13, 2020

  • Japanese Defense Minister Taro Kono speaks at the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan, Tokyo, June 25, 2020, photo by Yoshio Tsunoda/Reuters

    Commentary

    Japan Is Canceling a U.S. Missile Defense System

    In June, Japan canceled its planned deployment of two Aegis Ashore ballistic missile defense systems. This decision is understandable, but that doesn't negate the problems it could pose for Japanese security and Japan's relationship with the United States.

    Jul 6, 2020

  • A Pantsir-S surface-to-air missile system fires a missile during the International Army Games 2017 outside Astrakhan, Russia, August 5, 2017, photo by Maxim Shemetov/Reuters

    Commentary

    Drone-Era Warfare Shows the Operational Limits of Air Defense Systems

    External powers have intervened in the civil wars in Libya and Syria, supplying advanced conventional weapons that have intensified the conflicts. But not all of the weapons have performed as claimed.

    Jul 2, 2020

  • Russia's President Vladimir Putin gestures during the joint press conference with U.S. President Donald Trump in the Presidential Palace in Helsinki, Finland, July 16, 2018, photo by Lehtikuva/Jussi Nukari/Reuters

    Commentary

    Take the Bird in the Hand. Strike a Nuclear Weapons Deal with Russia

    By extending New START, the Trump administration would preserve verifiable constraints on Russia's nuclear arsenal, buy time to negotiate a more comprehensive agreement, and pave the way for arms talks about intermediate-range missiles.

    Jul 1, 2020

  • Signal cables are laid out at a test location on Yucca Flat, the principal underground nuclear weapons testing area at the Nevada Test Site, in the 1990s, photo courtesy of National Nuclear Security Administration/Nevada Field Office

    Commentary

    Nuclear Testing Not Needed Now

    Trump administration officials are reported to have recently discussed conducting a nuclear test, breaking a moratorium the United States has observed since 1992. Such a move is not necessary to ensure the reliability of the U.S. arsenal and could increase threats to U.S. and allied security by giving a green light to others to conduct nuclear tests.

    Jun 11, 2020

  • A Yakovlev Yak-130 combat trainer aircraft performs during the International Army Games 2016, in Dubrovichi outside Ryazan, Russia, August 5, 2016, photo by Maxim Shemetov/Reuters

    Commentary

    The Value of Systematic Assessments of Weapons Procurement

    Considering the COVID-19 pandemic and inevitable economic difficulties, national governments should be encouraged to weigh their military requirements in a more cost-effective manner. Countries need to think strategically about the life cycle costs of equipment, not just the original purchase price.

    Jun 8, 2020