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SED Research Area:
Independent Assessments of Acquisition Programs and Portfolios

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SED, due to its independence from the organizations that acquire and use systems, is frequently asked by government offices or directed by the U.S. Congress to conduct independent assessments of proposed or ongoing system acquisition programs, or portfolios of programs. These assessments are usually conducted in the context of different military scenarios of interest and typically examine the strengths and weaknesses of the programs, assess their technical feasibility and the likelihood that the program objectives will be met, compare different concepts of employment of the systems, analyze costs, and examine programmatic risk. Some selected recent SED projects are briefly described below along with the publication year of the associated report.

  • NDAA Study on TACTCOMMs — IDA assessed U.S. Army air-land tactical communications and data network requirements and capabilities for the Director, Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation, at the direction of the U.S. Congress.  We comprehensively assessed the current and future requirements and capabilities of these networks, including their technological feasibility, operational suitability, and survivability against attacks.  (2016)

  • The independent review and assessment of the Ground-Based Midcourse Defense system (GMD) conducted for the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) at the direction of the U.S. Congress, examined DoD's plans for achieving planned capabilities, flight testing, sustainment, and funding for the GMD system over the course of its service life. (2012)
  • The independent assessment of the European Phased Adaptive Approach (EPAA), conducted for the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) at the direction of the U.S. Congress, examined the proposed concept for a European-based phased deployment of Standard Missile 3 (SM-3) systems and supporting sensor systems to protect the United States, U.S. forward-deployed forces, and Europe from a ballistic missile attack from the Middle East. The project assessed the potential performance of such a system against projected threats, including countermeasures, as well as force structure needs, operational issues, and the costs of developing, fielding, and operating the systems. (2010)
  • The space-based interceptors for ballistic missile defense project, a multi-institute effort led by IDA for the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) at the direction of the U.S. Congress, examined a broad set of issues associated with concepts for deploying space-based interceptors for ballistic missile defense. The project addressed mission effectiveness, technical feasibility, non-space alternatives, relevant international policy and treaties, cost estimates, and the risk associated with orbital debris for various scenarios and orbital constellation designs. (2011)
  • The assessment of the Army air and missile defense (AMD) portfolio for the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Acquisition (ASD(A)) examined Army AMD capabilities and gaps in a joint warfighting context to assess how well the Army's AMD acquisition portfolio and the system-of-systems approach embodied by Army Integrated AMD provide the required capabilities for current defense planning and projected future threats. (2014)
  • The utility and effectiveness of high altitude intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) project for the Joint Chiefs of Staff Directorate J-8 for Force Structure, Resources, and Assessment (JCS J-8) assessed the utility and effectiveness of the high-altitude ISR enterprise in comparison to overhead ISR and medium-altitude ISR. (2013)

  • Evaluating the feasibility and potential effectiveness of a space system sometimes involves analyzing proposed satellite orbital constellations.  The figure below shows the orbit view (left) and ground track view (right) of a multiple-satellite constellation designed for all the satellites to follow the same ground track sequentially in a “chain of orbits”.  This technique, which can be implemented for any orbital inclination and thus generate a ground track that includes any point on the Earth’s surface, is accomplished by shifting the orbital planes relative to each other to maintain the same ground track even as the Earth rotates beneath the constellation.  Such orbital constellations are useful for maintaining a prolonged dwell of satellite coverage over a point of interest on the Earth’s surface.  Long dwell times are not possible for single reconnaissance satellites in low earth orbit (LEO) due to their asynchronous orbits. (2009)