A high percentage of defense systems fail to meet their reliability requirements. This is a serious problem for the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD), as well as the nation. Those systems are not only less likely to successfully carry out their intended missions, but they also could endanger the lives of the operators. Furthermore, reliability failures discovered after deployment can result in costly and strategic delays and the need for expensive redesign, which often limits the tactical situations in which the system can be used. Finally, systems that fail to meet their reliability requirements are much more likely to need additional scheduled and unscheduled maintenance and to need more spare parts and possibly replacement systems, all of which can substantially increase the life-cycle costs of a system.
Beginning in 2008, DOD undertook a concerted effort to raise the priority of reliability through greater use of design for reliability techniques, reliability growth testing, and formal reliability growth modeling, by both the contractors and DOD units. To this end, handbooks, guidances, and formal memoranda were revised or newly issued to reduce the frequency of reliability deficiencies for defense systems in operational testing and the effects of those deficiencies. Reliability Growth evaluates these recent changes and, more generally, assesses how current DOD principles and practices could be modified to increase the likelihood that defense systems will satisfy their reliability requirements. This report examines changes to the reliability requirements for proposed systems; defines modern design and testing for reliability; discusses the contractor's role in reliability testing; and summarizes the current state of formal reliability growth modeling. The recommendations of Reliability Growth will improve the reliability of defense systems and protect the health of the valuable personnel who operate them.
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