Kaye Porter, GDCA
Defense programs are growing in complexity. Not only are programs becoming more complicated, but the supply chain has become volatile and difficult to navigate. The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter aircraft alone partners with more than 1,200 domestic suppliers and nine “partner countries” to produce “thousands of components from highly sophisticated radar sensors to the aircraft’s mid fuselage.”1 In 2010, the United States stopped being the world’s leading high-technology exporter, and as a result more manufacturing now occurs overseas. This shift puts the supply chain for both defense and commercial technology at risk from threats that designers have limited control over, such as natural disasters, obsolescence, and counterfeit electronics.
In the face of relentless budget cuts, defense programs face system life cycles lasting longer than originally anticipated. By the time a ship or plane is decommissioned, it has often been in use decades beyond its original life expectancy. When warfighter programs are affected by aging, unreliable products, or lack of funding for spare boards and system repairs, our troops aren’t getting the support they need. In a climate of Performance-Based Logistics (PBL) programs, budget cuts, sequestration, COTS obsolescence, and increased counterfeit risks, proactive obsolescence management needs a refresh just as much as many defense systems do, but sometimes myths about obsolescence hold organizations back from taking a more proactive approach to obsolescence.
Plan for EOL costs from the beginning to keep long life cycle systems performing their critical functions.