Reliability Growth: Enhancing Defense System Reliability

    Panel on Reliability Growth Methods for Defense Systems; Committee on National Statistics; Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education; National Research Council

    Reliability - the innate capability of a system to perform its intended functions - is one of the key performance attributes that is tracked during U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) acquisition processes. Although every system is supposed to achieve a specified reliability requirement before being approved for acquisition, the perceived urgency to operationally deploy new technologies and military capabilities often leads to defense systems being fielded without having demonstrated adequate reliability. Between 2006 and 2011, one-half of the 52 major defense systems reported on by the DoD Office of the Director, Operational Test and Evaluation (DOT&E) to Congress failed to meet their prescribed reliability thresholds, yet all of the systems proceeded to fullrate production status.

    Defense systems that fail to meet their reliability requirements are not only less likely to successfully carry out their intended missions, but also may endanger the lives of the Armed Service personnel who are depending on them. Such deficient systems are also much more likely than reliable systems to require extra scheduled and unscheduled maintenance and to demand more spare and replacement parts over their life cycles. In addition, the consequences of not finding fundamental flaws in a system's design until after it is deployed can include costly and strategic delays until expensive redesigns are formulated and implemented and imposition of operational limits that constrain tactical employment profiles.

    Recognizing these costs, the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) - through DOT&E and the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics (USD AT&L) - in 2008 initiated a concerted effort to elevate the importance of reliability through greater use of design-for-reliability techniques, reliability growth testing, and formal reliability growth modeling. To this end, handbooks, guidance, and formal memoranda were revised or newly issued to provide policy to lead to the reduction of the frequency of reliability deficiencies. To evaluate the efficacy of that effort and, more generally, to assess how current DoD principles and practices could be strengthened to increase the likelihood of defense systems satisfying their reliability requirements, DOT&E and USD AT&L requested that the National Research Council conduct a study through its Committee on National Statistics (CNSTAT). The Panel on Reliability Growth Methods for Defense Systems was created to carry out that study.

This book covers:
  • Introduction
  • Defense And Commercial System Development : A Comparison
  • Reliability Metrics
  • Reliability Growth Models
  • System Design For Reliability
  • Reliability Growth Through Testing
  • Developmental Test And Evaluation
  • Operational Test And Evaluation
  • Software Reliability Growth
  • Conclusion And Recommendation

Copyright © 2016 by CALCE and the University of Maryland, All Rights Reserved
Please report problems with website to