Joint Direct Attack Munition JDAM Research Proposal

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Joint direct attack munition (JDAM)

Implementing Acquisition Reform: A Case Study on Joint Direct Attack Munitions - July 1998

Given the early Phase II in the JDAM program, critically assess and evaluate the transformation decisions, strategies, processes, and techniques the government and industry leaders used to implement Acquisition Reform.

What are your general impressions (who, what, when, where, why, how)?

Who: The primary protagonists and numerous "players" listed below.

What: The JDAM program aims at developing sophisticated -- but affordable -- "strap-on" guidance kits that can be attached to standard Mk-83 and BLU-110 1000-lb "dumb" bombs, and Mk-84 and BLU109 2000-lb "dumb" bombs. Through the use of an inertial navigation system augmented by updates provided by GPS, which guide active control surfaces, JDAM kits permit highly accurate delivery of bombs from a variety of aircraft platforms under a wide range of adverse weather and environmental conditions. 8 JDAM has a range of about 15 nautical miles when dropped from high altitudes (Lorell, Lowell, Kennedy & Levaux, 2000, p. 140).

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When: JDAM was initiated in late fiscal year 1991 and had its roots in Desert Storm. It was during that conflict that military leaders realized the need for all-weather, extremely accurate bombs capable of being dropped from a number of aircraft platforms (Ingols & Brem, p. 6). The competition among the two primary contractors bidding for this project was fierce. According to the case study authors, "McDonnell Douglas -- along with rival Lockheed Martin -- had been competing head-to-head for the $1 billion Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) contract" (p. 18).

Where: National in scope; Florida in particular and system-wide in general.

TOPIC: Research Proposal on Joint Direct Attack Munition JDAM Assignment

Why: There were three main reasons for this initiative: (a) the American public became increasingly vocal in their demands for a "peace dividend" following the collapse of the Soviet Union and the Cold War; (b) dwindling defense budgets; and - the need to identify superior defense acquisition processes. Based on the need to identify superior acquisition approaches quickly during this period, the JDAM was selected because it represented a high-profile and was strictly military in application. According to the case study authors, "Because JDAM was a high-profile Defense Acquisition Pilot Project (DAPP), there was also a lot on the line for Terry Little and the Department of Defense" (Ingols & Brem, p. 1). Likewise, the former Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition Lieutenant General George Muellner, described the JDAM initiative as being "the linchpin" of "the broader Department of Defense's acquisition streamlining activities" (quoted in Lorell, Lowell, Kennedy & Levaux, 2000, p. 140); the JDAM initiative has been placed in Category (ACAT) 1D programs at the time, representing the most important Air Force acquisition category (Lorell et al.).

How: The initiative described in this case study was achieved by identifying inefficient government regulations and procedures that contributed to cost overruns and discouraged cost-saving initiatives.

Who are the primary protagonists?

Terry Little, Air Force program manager for Joint Direct Attack Munitions

Lieutenant Colonel Joe Shearer, leader of the McDonnell Douglas advisory team

Charlie Dillow, McDonnell Douglas program manager for JDAM

Lockheed Martin

McDonnell Douglas

What were their dilemmas, success issues?

There were numerous dilemmas and a few successes identified in the case study; the dilemmas included a strongly entrenched organizational culture among both military and civilian personnel that made effecting substantive change difficult without on-going top-down support. As McDonnell Douglas's program manager for JDAM, Charlie Dillow, found out, "He had to turn the team around, to implement a whole new strategy, and to redesign the system almost from the ground up. Above all, in only 12 months, he had to submit a proposal that was much lower than he ever expected" (Ingols & Brem, p. 18). In fact, it is unlikely that any such initiative could stand a chance of surviving the rigors of overcoming such powerful inertia without such top-down support, which could be regarded as one of the initiative's successes. In this regard, Little enjoyed some unprecedented support from the Pentagon brass: "I had a strong sense of empowerment, both from the Air Force Chief of Staff who said basically 'Do what you have to do to get the products under $40,000,' to the OSD program office and the leadership there. My boss and my boss's boss gave me the freedom to innovate and experiment. I could not have been successful otherwise" (quoted in Ingols & Brem at p. 18). Likewise, the case study authors note that, "Dillow and his team had the unswerving support and guidance of Dave Swain, deputy general manager of New Aircraft and Missile Products" (p. 28).

Other dilemmas encountered by the respective development teams from McDonnell Douglas and Lockheed Martin included identifying superior streamlined approaches to existing proposal preparation procedures as well as the need to achieve these goals to remain competitive and even to survive in the post-Cold War defense budget climate. As the case study authors emphasize, "Dillow thought of the thousands of personnel that had been laid off at McDonnell Douglas over the last six years due to de-militarization, lost competitions, and canceled programs. He knew that neither he nor the company could afford to lose JDAM -- one of the few new projects the Pentagon was willing to fund" (Ingols & Brem, p. 19). One distinct success identified in the case study was the creation of development teams comprised of both civilian and military personnel: "From the beginning, it was clear that the government was treating this program differently. The most obvious evidence of change was the formation of government / industry teams. The presence of government personnel gave the contractor direct communication and insight to the government's needs and expectations" (Ingols & Brem, p. 24). Some successes identified by the case study authors focused on the cost-saving goals achieved: "Both Boeing and the DoD have heralded the success of the JDAM initiative. There are many parameters by which to judge this success: McDonnell Douglas team's final proposal included an AUPP between $14,000 and $15,000 (from an original cost target of $40,000 and original cost estimate of $68,000)" (p. 33). In addition, Ingols and Brem note that the McDonnell Douglas JDAM team reduced their R&D development costs by $70 million as well as reducing the development program length by 16 months. According to these authors, "The total procurement cycle length was reduced from 15 years to 10 years, while the product actually improved on original accuracy requirements" (Ingols & Brem, p. 34). Yet another success was the government's communication of the award fee criteria to the two winning contactors. According to Kerry Bush, McDonnell Douglas team member: "The government did a good job making the award fee criteria very clear. We had a performance incentive program (PIP) that was tied directly to the award fee plan. That really focuses people" (quoted in Ingols & Brem at p. 26).

What were their assumptions? What decisions did they make? Why? How?

The Pentagon's acquisition reform office assumed that the JDAM initiative represented a viable project to help achieve the federal mandates for streamlined acquisition procedures as well as providing a useful framework in which to establish precedents for the future. The decisions made throughout the JDAM's development were consistently targeted at achieving the established cost goals without sacrificing the key performance elements needed to satisfy the contract requirements. These decisions were all made based on authority granted by the Congress to the Department of Defense and then to the respective defense contractors to achieve these goals in ways that took advantage of commercial-like approaches to the same processes.

What are your assumptions?

It quickly became clear that the political implications of a successful JDAM initiative far outweighed any potential contributions the device had for national security interests. It was therefore reasonable to assume that both the civilian and military players were motivated by the desire to satisfy their superiors to help them advance professionally. In this regard, Ingols and Brem note that, "When Charlie Dillow received word that his team had won, he sat back in his chair and breathed a huge sigh of relief. It had been a grueling 18 months. The rewards had been great, he was already in line to receive a promotion, and everyone on the team had enhanced their careers by being part of JDAM" (p. 33).

What are the primary issues?

The primary issues identified in the case study were the need to deliver the JDAM initiative within the cost estimates provided by Little for $40,000 a unit by implementing more streamlined administrative procedures for awarding defense contracts and how they were overseen during their development. The JDAM project was started in fiscal year 1991 based on the country's experiences in Desert Storm. According to the authors, "It was during that conflict that military leaders realized the need for all-weather, extremely accurate bombs capable of being dropped from a number of aircraft platforms" (Ingols & Brem, p. 6). In 1993, General McPeak, the Air Force Chief of Staff, insisted that the… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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APA Style

Joint Direct Attack Munition JDAM.  (2008, August 30).  Retrieved September 21, 2021, from

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"Joint Direct Attack Munition JDAM."  30 August 2008.  Web.  21 September 2021. <>.

Chicago Style

"Joint Direct Attack Munition JDAM."  August 30, 2008.  Accessed September 21, 2021.