This is just an Excerpt from a larger document, click here to view the entire document.The Use of COTS in Military Systems
Another challenge resulting from recent AR changes is the emphasis on use of COTS equipments in military systems. The increased emphasis oncommercial products and practices has occurred for a number of reasons. First, the decrease in military spending over the last decade has resulted in an erosion in the industrial base that existed to support development
of weapon systems. Second, while technology was driven primarily by the DoD in the past, this is no longer the case. Third, many technologies (e.g., electronics, information, communications) are advancing at such a rapid pace that the government can no longer afford an acquisition process that has historically required at least a 2-3 year cycle to develop, test, and field a system.
When considering the use of COTS equipment, much work needs to be done up front in terms of market research and development of minimum requirements. This means that the procuring offices must work closely with the end user to define the minimum acceptable performance specifications for R&M. Market research then needs to be performed to see what COTS equipment exists that has the potential of meeting defined requirements at an affordable price. The challenge to the market research is in obtaining R&M data on COTS equipment. Many COTS vendors are not likely to have the kinds of data that exist in military R&M data collection systems. This puts a greater emphasis on the need to validate COTS equipment through testing. Testing will be required to overcome the lack of R&M data and to provide some assurance that COTS equipments will meet stated R&M requirements. This includes such testing as Environmental Stress Screening (ESS) and qualification and verification testing. If design documentationis available, specific R&M tasks, such as predictions and failure mode and effects analysis (FMEA), may be part of the COTS evaluation process. Because the prime military contractor is not likely to be the COTS vendor in this case,boththegovernment and the prime will need to perform the evaluation. In some cases, a cooperative effort should be performed between the twoparties. Infact,there are documented cases where this has already occurred .