The F-22 advanced tactical fighter
the Air Force model acquisition program
Over the past two decades, numerous US government and military contracts have experienced significant cost, schedule, and technical problems. As a result, both the government and the military organized special commissions to investigate how these institutions could more successfully implement their procurement initiatives. This article examines how the US Air Force (USAF) successfully realized the design and construction of its F-22 Advanced Tactical Fighter (ATF) jet, an effort managed using program management to address issues involving advanced planning, risk reduction, and extensive prototyping. In doing so, it discusses the recommendations of two special commissions that the US government organized, listing the nine recommendations generated by the President's Blue Ribbon Commission on Defense Management and four recommendations developed by the US Department of Defense. It discusses why the USAF selected the F-22 to serve as its model for implementing its weapons acquisition programs, noting the three reasons why the USAF implemented the F-22 program. It looks at how the USAF involved end-users in the F-22 program, a move that differed greatly from previous programs the USAF has implemented. It also overviews the F-22's 54-month demonstration/validation (Dem/Val) contract process--involving seven contractors for the airframe and two contractors for the engines--to design, construct, and flight test prototype aircraft; it looks at the USAF's process for awarding the F-22's program contracts. It then outlines the six areas of technical innovation that the F-22 program achieved, areas that include stealth technology, supercruise functionality, increased operability, increased agility, integrated avionics, and increased reliability and maintainability. It details the F-22's program management challenges and advancements, noting how the program team's use of concurrent engineering differs from the traditional, serial-based approach to developing weapons systems. It explains how the USAF's and the program contractors' use of a concurrent engineering approach changed the USAF's traditional organizational structures for both operating a program management office via integrated project teams (IPTs) and managing program contracts, particularly the USAF's integrated concurrent engineering approach to managing contracts and measuring contractor performance via tools such as statements of work (SOWs), integrated master plan (IMP), and work breakdown structure (WBS).