At the recent Maritime and Systems Technology (MAST) conference and tradeshow held in Stockholm, Sweden, GE Intelligent Platforms presented a paper entitled “Long Term Support Strategies For Long Term Programs” to an audience comprising senior personnel and program managers from many of the world’s maritime defense and security organizations.
The paper, presented by Colin Davies, Business Development Manager, Military & Aerospace Products for GE Intelligent Platforms, described the different strategies available to ensure the long-term viability of programs which can have a deployed life measurable in decades, and gave examples of the major military programs that have made use of them. These strategies can be summarized as:
• Progressive: the user plans to continually refresh the technology used in the program, and chooses technology insertion opportunities based on a planned lifecycle in order to minimize the impact of obsolescence. This approach maximizes performance throughout the program’s lifetime, and requires the chosen vendor to have a commitment to developing successive generations of product that are form-, fit- and function compatible with their predecessors.
• Defensive: a defensive long-term support strategy sees the user planning to retain the original hardware/software platform for as long as possible. The impact of obsolescence is often adopted to avoid the cost of requalification and to maintain the flexibility of equipment interchangeability. This approach requires the chosen vendor to be able to offer a range of services including configuration control and regular product ‘health checks’.
• Mixed: a mixed long-term support strategy combines elements of both the progressive and defensive strategies, each of which has upsides and downsides. Thus, a mixed strategy might see fifteen year program divided into three five-year cycles, with the same platform retained for each cycle but with a planned technology refresh every five years.
“Every program is different in terms of its planned lifetime, its goals, its funding and so on,” said Davies, “and that’s why it’s vital that COTS vendors can offer a broad range of long term support strategies so that these can be precisely tailored to the needs of each customer. With appropriate forward planning, the lifetime cost of ownership of any program can be significantly reduced while operational availability is maximized.”
MAST is an annual global forum, organized by an international committee of authoritative, influential government, research/academia, and industry decision makers, at which future capabilities and concepts are discussed and debated by the world’s leading surface-, submarine- and joint- operations authorities, and enabling technologies (at research, development or deployment stages) are presented. The next MAST conference will be held in Rome 9-11 November 2010.