Software is a growing slice of military production budgets, and it isn’t always found in obvious places. On the ground, BAE Systems’ FMTV medium trucks seem prosaic, but a look under the hood reveals an astonishing level of software code in each vehicle. The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program, a big winner in the Pentagon’s FY 2010 budget recommendations, considers the aircraft’s code to be one of its most important – and most secret – aspects. In the Navy, a movement toward open electronic architectures is culminating in the DDG-1000 “destroyer” and its Total Ship Computing Environment – an area recently identified by the US GAO audit office as a significant program risk.
The commercial world is moving toward Agile Programming models, in part as a solution to its perennial problems with late and over-budget releases. For various reasons, that could prove to be a difficult transition in the defense industry.
Former Microsoft and Corbis development manager David Anderson offers an intriguing way forward, using an approach that builds on key methods already in use within the defense industry: Goldratt’s Theory of Constraints, Kanban, and Lean business. David’s results were impressive. His QCon 2009 presentation is enlightening, as he explains the systems used, his approach to implementation, and the results.