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Why procurement takes so long

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posted on Jan, 14 2017 @ 11:30 AM
I found this article today written by Frank Kendall, Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics. He talks about when it is, and isn't a good time to accelerate procurement programs. In many cases, it's because programs are expected to last 30-40 years after development, and that requires a much higher quality of program and development. Lead time for a program can take up to 18 months, or twice as long as even 20 years ago. During that time, the Pentagon is usually working the RFP, source selection, and other milestones to be prepared for when they have funding from Congress.

For technology demonstrators or experimental technologies, they use Rapid Prototyping. This usually leads to a few of whatever is developed being built, and tested. This is useful for developing new capabilities, and for things that don't require long term usage. Sometimes, those prototypes work out so well, they buy more of them and make them operational. An example of this is the Global Hawk. The problem with these is that their long term life generally isn't as long as something that took longer to develop.

Then comes the items that they need quickly, with only a few specific parameters. Sometimes it's because they were surprised by a threat, and need something to help alleviate that threat. A good example of this is the MRAP. It was introduced in decent numbers, but now that the threat (IEDs) is mostly gone, the vehicles are being phased out in favor of the JLTV. The JLTV has many of the same features of the MRAP, but will serve much longer, as it's a higher quality vehicle..

Last on the list, are items like the F-35. Items that require top of the line technology, and ability to be upgraded through their life, high reliability, and time to develop. They can do risk reduction before designing them for production, but that adds about three years to the process. The examples he used included the F-18, C-17, Aegis, M-1, and F-15. Every one of those programs, came close to being cancelled during their development.

Why don’t we do all our acquisition programs faster? What keeps us from having all acquisition programs be “rapid” acquisitions? The short answer is that, if we choose to, we can trade quality for time. Sometimes that is smart, and sometimes it isn’t.
Often, and for good reasons, we demand high quality, and that takes more time. What I mean by “quality” in this case is the suite of features we want in the equipment intended for a large fraction of the force and that we keep in our inventory for a long time — 30 or 40 years, in many cases. Quality includes high reliability, maintainability, operation in a range of climates and terrains, modularity and upgradability, well-designed user interfaces, cybersecurity, robustness against responsive threats, and effective training and logistics systems. None of these things is free, and they all take time to design for and test.

When and when not to accelerate development
edit on 1/14/2017 by Zaphod58 because: (no reason given)

posted on Jan, 14 2017 @ 12:05 PM
a reply to: Zaphod58

Interesting OP.

To somewhat add to your OP, I wanted to know what the JLTV was so I looked it up. This article shows up the awesome complexity of developing a new design vehicle and the long lead time needed just to get to the best design and to get it into production.

Seems things are a bit more difficult when you consider they are essentially trying to replace the Jeep.

Weird item to note: the newly awarded vehicle made by Oshkosh will be armed with the Browning machine gun, .50 Cal..................the same design from 1919.

posted on Jan, 14 2017 @ 05:50 PM
Do you think this is why the new Russian Armata tank looks like the most advanced in the world?

Did they develop it over many years or is it rushed, I think it is the first modular tank where parts can be switched fast, so you need guns on it, swap out the cannon and put a few 30 Mil cannons on it.

I would assume they have been designing it for many years, or they had it designed already but only recently needed to start building them due to current world events.

I haven't learned yet how to put videos on but there is a YouTube video of one of the first parades of the tank in front of huge crowds and it breaks down.

posted on Jan, 14 2017 @ 07:30 PM
a reply to: Jinn82

It's the first of a family. It took at least five years to get it to this point.

posted on Jan, 28 2017 @ 10:13 PM
I believe some is politics also...IF needed it can be done quicker...

Thinking MOAB of the daisy cutter type..I think it was designed, tested, and deployed in weeks.

The F35 gets a bum rap sometimes. It will be a fine aircraft indeed.

C17 line shut down.......think about that one...India trying to buy the last one and wanted 3 more...

Sometimes we are our own worst enemy.

posted on Jan, 28 2017 @ 10:22 PM
a reply to: edsinger

When the C-17 line shut down, there was very little interest in more aircraft by other nations, or the Air Force. They had to decide if they were going to buy more long lead items, and risk building the aircraft, and not being able to sell them, or ending the line. They chose to end the line, only to have interest in them increase, after they had already ended long lead production. You make the best educated guess you can, with the information at hand. Sometimes it comes back to bite you.

MOAB was built in an extremely limited production run though. There were two test articles, and 15 known devices built, none of which have been used.

posted on Jan, 29 2017 @ 09:11 AM
Agreed, I find it odd that the Brits, Aussies, and Indians want more...

In this case I would think Boeing should look at a redesign, maybe a new aircraft to some degree...The reasons are many as the C-5 fleet is too small, and I think the 141's are gone so that leaves only Herc's.

The C17 is a bad ass plane, there is a market for something of that nature. I mean the Chinese are building one that I think is of similar capability.

I wish Lockheed was still deigning planes like that.....competition is good in some ways..

I did not know they did not use a MOAB yet. I know in Gulf War 1, they dropped Daisy cutters to great effect.

My point was if the need was there, you could cut the design procurement time by 2/3s. In the engineering commercial world we do that now with a 'Design Build' concept. In a world driven by profit, there is the instinctive to work T & M. IN the contractor world that is Time and Material but in my days as a blue collar guy, it was take your time and make it last. In my present world I work almost exclusivity in T&M, and I showed that when you have the right people in place, on multi-million dollar contracts you can save immense sums of money doing it that way. I came in about 45% under with all the extras unknown at the time included. Of course the monies I saved went to make up for the others that did not. Still the whole project was within 10% of original price even with an all stop in early 2009. These same concepts would work in the military procurement world. The issue is the Academies are producing folks that do not understand lean concepts and how to make them work.

Maybe The Don can fix this?

posted on Jan, 29 2017 @ 09:31 AM
a reply to: edsinger

The MOAB is one of the things talked about in the article. It was a low need, low risk program, so design and development were able to be done quickly.

posted on Jan, 29 2017 @ 10:07 AM
OK but you know that there are things done according to need that do NOT take time in the sense we are discussing.

You know this.

Question for you, IF and its a big IF, the AF decides they want F23's. How long do you think it would take to get one rolling down the runway from Grumman? They state they need it NOW.

Costs considered you can then multiply that time by at least 2.

posted on Jan, 29 2017 @ 12:03 PM
a reply to: edsinger

Of course there are. I've been talking about how broken procurement is for years. This article explains how it got to that point though, and why some programs go do fast while others are dragged out.

The YF-23 would take twice as long because the tooling is long gone, and Northrop isn't going to kill their bottom line buying it back quickly. They're even considering a semi serious bid on the T-X, possibly because it would hurt their bottom line.

posted on Jan, 29 2017 @ 02:07 PM

originally posted by: Zaphod58 tooling is long gone,

Tooling can be made in due time, but when they destroy the drawings, then that is another issue . See Saturn IV.

It was meant as an example, the f23 would be cool but still 5th Gen...time to move to 6th gen. Should be ready when other countries deploy 5th gen that works.

posted on Jan, 29 2017 @ 02:21 PM
a reply to: edsinger

Yes it can, but they're not going to buy it all at once, but over a couple of years. Which is going to cause delays while they take their time getting what's needed.

posted on Jan, 29 2017 @ 04:27 PM
That is what would be interesting, get the red tape out of the way.....

posted on Mar, 14 2017 @ 06:29 PM
a reply to: Zaphod58

Canada must have set a record with trying to replace their Seaking helicopters since 1983.
They should have just bought the rights to the helicopter and built a new hot rodded version, might have been cheaper.

posted on Mar, 27 2017 @ 12:34 AM
a reply to: Zaphod58


In some very key ways it's actually a tank that has almost 5 decades worth of prototypes and platforms specifically developed with the intention of maturing key technologies, validating theoretical approaches to war fighting on a technology and tactics level, and integrating more and more of the various developments into a single working vehicle.

The Russians didn't buy into the whole peace dividend thing to the level that the west did.

It definitely didn't show up out of nowhere, and definitely wasn't from zero to essentially low rate initial production in 5 or even 10 years.

Some really good sources to start gaining a limited understanding would be the blog of user gurkhan with the blog name and url starting with gurkhan attacks. Another is below the turret ring. Another is ciar dot org / ttk/MBT

There's several more on the tip of my tongue, but I can't seem to spit them out.

Experimental tanks like "buntar" and "rebel" very greatly show the family resemblance btw

posted on Mar, 27 2017 @ 12:39 AM
a reply to: Jinn82

You're correct, you can actually see the idea taking shape over decades in their experimental tank designs as well as various documents on russian current and future capabilities that are on from pre glasnost era showing features that finally show up in Armata, a production tank.

posted on Mar, 27 2017 @ 12:48 AM
a reply to: Zaphod58

The aircraft one that's extremely painful is the eurobloc electing to have a completely unprepared and incapable Airbus build the A-400 rather than going with a westernized AN-70. Which made an already phenomenal aircraft design even better.

I truly believe that even if we had to subsidize the euro aircraft buys the US would have been well served to jump on that bandwagon and ride it across the finish line like frigging SEA BISCUIT!!!

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