Cost Analyses

Below is a small sample of the numerous studies IDA's Studies and Analyses Center conducts in the area of cost analyses.

Independent Cost Analysis for the AESA Radar

The AN/APG-79 radar for the Navy’s F/A-18E/F tactical aircraft incorporates an active electronically scanned array (AESA) to increase detection range and to improve capabilities for electronic warfare and suppression of enemy air defenses. In 2003, when the program was in development, IDA provided a baseline cost estimate for the program and identified hardware development risks that could increase production and development costs.

This past year, we conducted a second analysis of the radar before its transition to full-rate production. We re-examined the hardware development risks identified in the previous study and found that most potential problems had been resolved. A number of software issues remain, however, and we are now creating a new baseline cost estimate for the radar.

Operating and Support Costs of the Future Combat Systems Program

DoD asked IDA to review the technologies and operating concepts for the Army’s Future Combat Systems (FCS) program to identify potential sources of operating and support (O&S) cost risk. We highlighted two areas for attention during program development.

FCS vehicles are being designed to be much more reliable than is typical of current combat vehicles. Achieving this higher reliability will increase production costs, but we showed that less reliable vehicles would raise FCS life-cycle costs – due to increased field maintenance and spare parts, combined with the need to buy more spare vehicles to maintain the readiness of operational FCS units.

A second area of cost risk relates to networking. The FCS concept calls for the use of high-speed, mobile, peer-to-peer networks for command, control and communications, as well as intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance functions. While individual enabling technologies have been demonstrated under non-combat conditions for a small number of network nodes, achieving satisfactory networking under combat conditions – for the hundreds of vehicles in a brigade – poses a development challenge. The operational complexity of the network and the sheer volume of needed software lead to O&S cost risks.

Costs of Maintenance Manpower

Because traditional cost estimating relationships have proven inadequate for estimating maintenance manpower for advanced combat aircraft, our researchers developed a discrete-event simulation model – the IDA Maintenance Estimation and Sortie Utilization Rate Evaluation (IMEASURE). The model projects staffing needs within an aircraft squadron for propulsion, airframe and avionics maintenance technicians.

IMEASURE has become an important tool in providing DoD sponsors with timely, high-quality estimates of life-cycle costs early in an aircraft’s development phase. We have successfully applied this model in studies of advanced tactical aircraft, such as the Joint Strike Fighter and the F-22A, and in analyses of the upgraded UH-1 helicopter, the proposed unmanned combat air vehicle, and alternative designs for a new bomber.

Recent improvements to IMEASURE include the addition of modules related to repairs of low-observable features, engine depot maintenance and phased maintenance. The model also is being used to estimate the life-cycle cost implications of alternative levels of operational suitability.

Contingency Operations Support Tool

IDA’s Contingency Operations Support Tool (COST) provides an automated, common basis for DoD’s financial and resource management community to estimate the costs of military operations, including ongoing counterterrorism efforts. DoD’s Financial Management Regulations mandate the use of COST as the common estimating tool for reimbursement of war-related expenses, and COST is one of the two automated systems used by DoD to plan and execute joint contingency operations.

In 2006, IDA’s COST development team refined the tool to enable better estimates of the costs of ongoing operations in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere. We also developed a new application, the Budget Integration Framework (BIF), which has revolutionized the way DoD manages and assesses supplemental budget requests.

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