The U.S. military has unleashed a powerful force over the past few decades by empowering its vast network of highly qualified suppliers to bring their best ideas to the table. A shift has occurred away from the Department of Defense and the armed services dictating key performance parameters and defense contractors simply responding to those specifications. What we see now is a more collaborative environment where the DOD sets expectations and the OEMs and suppliers come back with innovative solutions—solutions the DOD may not have even imagined.
More than ever before, our military leaders expect—or rather demand—that original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and first-tier suppliers like Honeywell engage our best people and use our most efficient processes to define the “art of the possible” for new technologies and weapons systems.
These days, we’re often given broad and aspirational performance targets for new development programs. The OEMs and tiered suppliers work together to come up with the best possible solution to meet the needs of the military, the warfighter in the field and the American taxpayer.
This fundamental change to the procurement process has created a highly competitive environment in which innovation and collaboration across the supply chain are paramount. From Honeywell’s perspective, this new procurement framework is ideal, because we’re no longer simply responding to government specifications. Instead, we’re able to pull out all the stops and develop the best solution that today’s technology will enable—all while working in close collaboration with the OEMs, other suppliers and the military services themselves.
For example, when it launched the Future Long-Range Assault Aircraft (FLRAA) as part of the Future Vertical Lift (FVL) program, the Army established performance requirements around operational attributes like combat radius, cruise speed, internal and external payload, and cost. They left it up to members of the two competing teams of defense contractors—led by OEMs Boeing-Sikorsky and Bell Helicopter—to figure out how to meet or exceed those requirements. As a result, the Army is getting two amazing aircraft to evaluate.
This new, more collaborative approach to procurement also has changed the way military development programs are funded. In the past, the Pentagon typically paid for research and development, specified the platforms and systems it needed, and worked closely with defense contractors on developing product specifications. But today,