Another project currently being carried out through JPAVSE is the production of the AN/USM Common Radio Frequency Avionics Flight Line Tester, known as CRAFT. As with the AWTS program, the Navy took the lead in development of this system, but in this situation saw no marked cost avoidance for the price of each unit. This was because the Air Force and Coast Guard only found limited use for the system, and so failed to order in a quantity sufficient to lower the per unit cost any further, according to Captain Belcher.
While the Navy did not receive per-unit cost savings, by taking the lead in development it allowed significant savings for the other branches involved. Without the combined effort, the development process required to meet the Air Force and Coast Guard’s limited needs would have cost $4.5 million. This, in combination with the quantity pricing created by the Navy’s large order, generated savings of $6.48 million.
Captain Belcher says, “The main objective is to find common solutions to existing requirements. You save money by doing that, economies of scale.” He explains that the benefit is found in “better pricing for the individual units, and you’re sharing in the developmental cost, so each service doesn’t have to pay for that.”
Successes and Future
In a situation like the development of the AWTS, savings pass on to every member involved, and there is a direct benefit. Although the Navy paid the development cost, it was more than offset by the per-unit savings the much larger Air Force order made possible, according to Captain Belcher.
In contrast, the CRAFT project was also a success, but for different reasons. The Navy was responsible for both the development and the overwhelming majority of the order, 826 of the 1006 units ordered, but the Air Force and Coast Guard were able to purchase an effective, reliable system without the prohibitive costs individual development requires.
While the Navy saw no direct benefit, it developed and received a vitally useful system while benefiting other branches of the military. As Betcher explains, “Whoever’s lead would generally bear that expense for the other services to take advantage of. Over the last three years we’ve saved about $9 million by doing some joint projects with the Air Force and Coast Guard.”
As the JPAVSE program continues, more and more potential programs are coming to light. With the enormous savings the panel has enabled, estimated at more than $100 million in the last 15 years, the panel looks to continue its efforts. In addition to the two current projects discussed above, there are eight potential projects in various stages of exploration, and more to come. The panel sees the potential for greater interaction and continued savings as the program continues. Belcher says, “We’ve had some success, but there’s really more opportunities to take advantage of.”
By coordinating the process of development and acquisition through the JPAVSE program, the U.S. Armed Forces are finding significant savings.
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