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Pentagon Aims to Reduce Time, Cost for Weapons Design

Nov. 13, 2012 - 07:19PM   |  
By MARCUS WEISGERBER   |   Comments
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The U.S. Defense Department is looking at designing new weapons and equipment so foreign nations could more easily purchase them, thereby eliminating costly and time consuming redesigns needed to export many military systems today.

Senior Pentagon officials are already looking at exportability within development programs — including one for a radar and another for an electronic warfare system — that will serve as pilots for this effort.

Early in the design phase of these systems, components like “anti-tamper characteristics” and protection of certain technology will be considered, said Frank Kendall, undersecretary for acquisition, technology and logistics.

“We might want to have a slightly different variation of the product that we sell,” he said at a Nov. 13 briefing at the Pentagon.

This initiative is part of a hefty overhaul of DoD weapon buying guidance — dubbed Better Buying Power 2.0 — which is designed to improve efficiency and give the military more bang for its buck.

The Pentagon has looked to foreign exports of weapons, particularly in recent years as defense spending is slated to decline.

“In the current climate with budgets around the world coming down for defense spending, industry is looking to foreign sales more than ever to help keep their base healthy,” Kendall said. “This is a way to help them do that.”

Kendall acknowledged “it’s going to be a long-term journey to put this in place as you go through development and finally get into production and sales, but it’s going to pay dividends for the long term.”

Congress gave DoD the OK to run a pilot program that looks at designing exportability into a system from the beginning.

The pilot looks at several programs, including the Air Force Three Dimensional Expeditionary Long-Range Radar (3DELRR) and Navy Next-Generation Jammer.

The 3DELLR program is developing a mobile, long-range surveillance and ballistic missile defense radar. The Next-Generation Jammer is a Navy airborne electronic attack program.

“These are things that we would expect at some point to candidates for foreign sales or exports,” Kendall said. “This is relatively early in the design to take that into account.”

The new version of Better Buying Power updates guidance put into place two-and-a-half years ago by then DoD acquisition executive Ashton Carter, now the deputy defense secretary.

“Better Buying Power 2.0 … is a natural recognition of the fact that we can and must do more each and every year to get even better buying power and better value for the taxpayer and the warfighter,” Carter said during the Nov. 13 briefing.

The updated version of the weapons buying guidance focuses on support for the acquisition workforce. It also stresses incentivizing industry “by aligning profitability more tightly with [DoD] goals and employing appropriate contract types” and increasing the use of performance-based logistics contracts.

More detailed information about Better Buying Power 2.0 is available here: https://dap.dau.mil/bbp .

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