RAND PAF: Lessons Learned from the F/A-22 and F/A-18 Super Hornet Programs

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Since the late 1980s, the U.S. Air Force has pursued the F/A-22 Raptor supersonic stealth fighter that incorporated numerous breakthrough technologies, while the US Navy developed the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet based on the existing F/A-18. Unsurprisingly, the F/A-22 program has experienced significant cost growth and schedule delays and is still in the testing stage. In contrast, the Super Hornet completed its development on cost and without significant delays, and has already been used in combat. RAND’s Project Air Force looked at both programs with the intent of understanding how each project’s history turned out the way it did, what underlying factors might be at work, and what lessons might be learned. F/A-22 Raptor The RAND Project Air Force team who compiled this report for the USAF examined the acquisition strategies employed by the F/A-22 and F/A-18E/F programs from their inception through the demonstration and validation (Dem/Val) and EMD phases. While they acknowledge the qualitative differences between the two projects, they also believe that their divergent project histories have lessons to teach acquisition decision-makers. Some of these ‘lessons’ will seem blatantly obvious; nevertheless, the details of their execution and complications within each program make for useful reading. Recommendations include: * Early, […]

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