Major Capability Acquisition (MCA)

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Production and Deployment (P&D) Phase

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Reference Source: DODI 5000.85 Section 3.13


The purpose of the P&D Phase is to produce and deploy requirements-compliant materiel solutions to receiving operating organizations.


The P&D phase is guided by an updated CDD if required, the acquisition strategy, and the test and evaluation master plan.  In this phase the product is produced and fielded or deployed for use by operational units.


The phase includes a number of key events: LRIP, personnel training, completion of developmental test and evaluation (if required), initial operational test and evaluation, and the full-rate production (FRP) or full-deployment (FD) decision. In this phase, all system sustainment and support activities are initiated if not already begun, and the appropriate operational authority will declare initial operational capability (IOC) when the defined
operational organization has been equipped and trained and is determined to be capable of conducting mission operations. “Should cost” management and other techniques will be used continuously to control and reduce costs.


For MDAPs, and other programs on the Director of Operational Test and Evaluation (DOT&E) Oversight List, the DOT&E will provide a report providing the opinion of the DOT&E as to whether the program is operationally effective, suitable and survivable before the MDA makes the decision to proceed beyond LRIP or limited deployment.  If LRIP is not conducted for programs on the DOT&E oversight list, production representative test articles must be provided for the conduct of operational and live fire testing.


Reference Source: DAG CH 4-3.4 FRP&D Phase

During the Production and Deployment (P&D) phase, the sustainment function in the program shifts from planning to execution and oversight. The PM, with support from the PS IPT, executes the planned delivery, verification, and deployment of the product support package to support the early production items. The PM refines and executes plans for initial fielding of the product support package for Operational Test events, IOC, interim support, and transition to FOC.  Supply support and depot maintenance capabilities are put in place, and PSAs (such as Interim Contractor Support contracts, Public Private Partnerships, and Performance-Based Logistics [PBL] arrangements) are executed and monitored to ensure that providers are achieving required performance.

The P&D phase includes the Full Rate Production Decision Review, which authorizes Full-Rate Production (or full deployment) of the system. Figure 7 depicts the sustainment activates during P&D phase:

Graphic of LCSP Focus in P&D Phase

Figure 7: P&D Sustainment Planning Activities

The PM uses the LCSP during this phase to manage the program’s fielding efforts and to execute the required product support infrastructure, including PSAs, maintenance and supply capabilities, and sustaining engineering and logistics functions. The PM updates the LCSP based on results from logistics evaluation reports on operating procedures, maintenance procedures, maintenance analysis reports, and Packing, Handling, Storage, and Transportation (PHST) verification reports.

Risk Management in P&D Phase

Reference Source: DoD Risk, Issue, and Opportunity Management Guide for Defense Acquisition Programs, Jan 2017

The purpose of the P&D phase is to produce and deliver requirements-compliant products to receiving military organizations. The design must be stable enough to commit to production prior to entering this phase.

Specific actions include implementing mitigation plans for achieving Initial Operational Capability (IOC) and Full Operational Capability (FOC), which entails updating risk mitigation plans to address production and sustainment risks.

Following Milestone C, the program continues to mitigate risks to successful completion of Initial Operational Test and Evaluation (IOT&E) and the Physical Configuration Audit (PCA). The PCA verifies and validates that the product built is compliant with the design and meets the CPD. It also identifies technical risks for fielding and sustainment.


Suggested Activities in the P&D Phase to Reduce Risk
  • Conduct a thorough PCA to verify production does not introduce new risks.
  • Address risk associated with new requirements, follow-on increments, or deferred activities.
  • Work with the Defense Contract Management Agency (DCMA) to assess production schedule risks.
    • Identify and assess delivery schedule dependencies with external programs/users.
  • Identify sustaining engineering needs and fund as appropriate.

Systems Engineering Considerations

Reference Source: DAG Chapter 3-3.2.5

The objective of the Production and Deployment (P&D) phase is to validate the product design and to deliver the quantity of systems required for full operating capability, including all enabling system elements and supporting material and services. Systems engineering (SE) in P&D delivers the product baseline as validated during operational testing, and supports deployment and transition of capability to all end users, the warfighters and supporting organizations. SE activities, for example, maintenance approach, training and technical manuals, should be integrated with P&D phase-specific test and evaluation and logistics and sustainment activities identified in CH 8–4.4. and CH 4–3.4., respectively. This phase typically has several major efforts as shown in Figure 16: Low-Rate Initial Production (LRIP), Operational Test and Evaluation (OT&E), Full-Rate Production (FRP) and Full Deployment (FD), and deployment of capability in support of the Initial and Full Operational Capabilities. The Full-Rate Production Decision Review (FRP DR) and/or Full Deployment Decision Review (FD DR) serves as a key decision point between LRIP (and OT&E) and FRP/FD.

Engineering activities in the P&D phase

Figure 16: Systems Engineering Activities in the Production and Deployment Phase

Manufacturing development should be complete at Milestone C, but improvements or redesigns may require unanticipated, additional manufacturing process development and additional testing (e.g., delta qualification or delta first article test). For example, it may be discovered that changing the product design may provide enhancements in manufacturing or other supporting processes. At the conclusion of LRIP, all manufacturing development should be completed, with no significant manufacturing risks carried into FRP. The dynamic nature of the varied production elements requires a proactive approach to mitigate emerging risks.

Readiness for OT&E is a significant assessment of a system’s maturity (see CH 8–3.9.2.). The Systems Engineer plays a key role in ensuring systems are ready to enter OT&E. Scarce resources are wasted when an operational test is halted or terminated early because of technical problems, which should have been resolved before the start of OT&E.

During deployment, units attain Initial Operational Capability (IOC), then Full Operational Capability (FOC).

Besides ensuring a successful FOC, SE activities include:

  • Maturing manufacturing, production and deployment procedures.
  • Responding to deficiencies and develop corrective actions.
  • Supporting validation of system performance associated with OT&E.
  • Validating the production configuration prior to FRP / FD.

SE Roles and Responsibilities

Reference Source: DAG CH 3-3.2.5 Production and Deployment Phase

In addition to the general responsibilities identified in CH 3–2.5. Engineering Resources, the Program Manager (PM) focuses on the following P&D activities, which rely on and support SE efforts:

  • Conducting activities in support of the production contract award(s).
  • Ensuring Government intellectual property and data rights information are captured in the technical baseline.
  • Resourcing and conducting event-driven technical reviews (including the Physical Configuration Audit (PCA), Post Implementation Review (PIR), and FRP and/or FD DR) and ensure that criteria are met.
  • Managing and controlling the product baseline.
  • Managing risks, in particular the manufacturing, production and deployment risks.
  • Accepting system deliveries (i.e., DD-250).
  • Supporting the Configuration Steering Board.

In addition to the general responsibilities identified in CH 3–2.5. Engineering Resources, the Systems Engineer is responsible for:

  • Analyzing deficiencies discovered from OT&E, acceptance tests, production reports and maintenance reports and provide correction actions.
  • Conducting rigorous production risk assessments; plan and resource effective risk mitigation actions.
  • Continuing conducting producibility trade studies to determine the most cost-effective fabrication/manufacturing process.
  • Developing approaches and plans to validate fabrication/manufacturing processes.
  • Assessing full-rate production feasibility within program constraints. This may include assessing contractor and principal subcontractor production experience and capability, new fabrication technology, special tooling and production personnel training requirements.
  • Identifying long-lead items and critical materials; plan for obsolescence and implement DMSMS measures to mitigate impacts to production and sustainment.
  • Updating production costs as a part of life-cycle cost management.
  • Supporting updates to the production schedules.
  • Supporting technical reviews and production decisions.
  • Supporting materiel readiness and logistical activities, including deployment and training.
  • Continuing to support the configuration management process to control changes to the product baseline during test and deployment.
  • Updating and maintain system certifications and interfaces with external systems, as necessary.
  • Maintaining oversight of the system (software and hardware) development processes, system testing, documentation updates and tracking of the system development efforts.
  • Supporting the PM in his or her interactions with the Configuration Steering Board.

SE Inputs for P&D Phase

Reference Source: DAG CH 3-3.2.5 Production and Deployment Phase

  • Capability Production Document (CPD) and Concept of Operations/Operational Mode
  • Summary/Mission Profile (CONOPS/OMS/MP)
  • Acquisition Decision Memorandums (ADM) associated with Milestone C, LRIP and FRP DR and FD DR
    • ADMs may contain additional direction
    • Milestone C may not coincide with LRIP
    • FRP DR and FD DR ADMs are issued during P&D phase
  • SEP
    • Updated functional, allocated and product baselines; verified and validated production processes and validation results/decisions
    • Updated technical products including associated design and management decisions Reliability, Availability, Maintainability, and Cost Rationale (RAM-C) Report 
    • Attachment to SEP
  • Reliability growth curves (RGCs)   Included in SEP and TEMP
  • PPP
    • Updated at FRP DR and/or FD DR
  • Trade-off analysis results
    • Results could include knees-in-the-curves sensitivity analyses, product selections, etc.
    • P&D phase trade studies may support manufacturing or other system mods (technology insertion, technology refresh, etc.)
  • Assumptions and constraints
    • Rationale for all assumptions, constraints, and basis for trades
  • Environment, Safety and Occupational Health (ESOH) analyses
    • Programmatic Environment, Safety, and Occupational Health Evaluation (PESHE) and NEPA/EO 12114 Compliance Schedule
  • Risk assessment
    • Risk mitigation plans
    • Acceptable risks for achieving Initial Operational Capability (IOC) and Full Operational Capability (FOC)
    • Manufacturing readiness 
    • Assessment of manufacturing readiness supports Milestone C and initiation of production
  • Interdependencies/interfaces/memoranda of agreement (MOAs)
    • Understanding of the unique program interdependencies, interfaces and associated
  • MOA
  • Life-Cycle Mission Data Plan for Intelligence Mission Data (IMD)-dependent programs 
  • System performance specification (updated if necessary) including verification matrix
    • System element specifications (updated if necessary) including verification matrix Manufacturing, performance and quality metrics critical to program success are identified and tracked
    • Manufacturing drawings are sufficiently complete
  • Product baseline
  • Product acceptance test
  • Other technical information such as architectures, system models and simulations generated during the EMD phase
  • Results of EMD prototyping activities
  • Manufacturing prototyping activities supporting P&D phase
  • Validated On-Line Life-cycle Threat (VOLT) Report 
  • Acquisition Program Baseline (APB)
  • Affordability and Resource Estimates 
  • Affordability – Systems Engineering Trade-Off Analyses,
    • Affordability goals treated as KPPs
    • Should-cost goals to achieve efficiencies and control unproductive expenses
    • Updated will-cost values and affordability caps as documented in the Life-Cycle Sustainment Plan (LCSP), including informed advice to manpower documentation  Value engineering results, as appropriate
  • Supply chain sources
  • Updated Manufacturing processes
  • Production budget/cost model validated and resources considered sufficient to support LRIP and FRP
  • Acquisition Strategy (AS) 
  • LCSP
  • Human Systems Integration (HSI) analyses
    • Manpower, personnel and training (MPT) requirement updates
    • Refinement of HSI inputs to specifications, human system interfaces design, multi-domain verification, testing and usability evaluations
  • TEMP
    • System test objectives
  • Developmental test and evaluation (DT&E) assessments  System test objectives
  • Draft and final RFP
  • Security Classification Guide (SCG)
  • Information Support Plan (ISP) of Record 
  • Other analyses
    • Other prior analytic, prototyping and/or technology demonstration efforts completed by the science and technology (S&T) community; technology insertion/transition can occur at any point in the life cycle
  • Spectrum Supportability Risk Assessment 

Systems Engineering Activities in the P&D Phase

Reference Source: DAG CH 3-3.2.5 Production and Deployment Phase

The P&D phase SE activities begin when a favorable Milestone C decision has been made (see CH 3– 3.2.4. Engineering and Manufacturing Development Phase) and end when FOC is achieved. Figure 17 provides the end-to-end perspective and the integration of SE technical reviews and audits across the acquisition life cycle.

Visual of weapon system lifecycle events

Figure 17: Weapon System Development Life Cycle

SE activities that occur throughout the P&D phase include:

  • Providing technical support to prepare for the Operations and Support (O&S) phase, reviewing and providing inputs on the maintenance approach, acquisition strategy, training and technical manuals.
  • Updating risk, issue and opportunity plans. Identifying, analyzing, mitigating and monitoring risks and issues; and identifying, analyzing, managing and monitoring opportunities. (See the DoD Risk, Issue, and Opportunity Management Guide for Defense Acquisition Programs.)
  • Assessing the impact of system requirements changes resulting from evolving threats, changes to operational environment or in response to changes within the SoS or interfacing systems.
  • Analyzing system deficiencies generated during OT&E, acceptance testing, production and deployment.
  • Addressing problem/failure reports through the use of a comprehensive data collection approach like a Failure Reporting, Analysis and Corrective Action System (FRACAS).
  • Managing and controlling configuration updates (hardware, software and specifications) to the product baseline.
  • Re-verifying and validating production configuration.
  • SE provides inputs to OT&E readiness assessments including:
  • Assessment of DT&E, coordinated with the Chief Developmental Tester, to support approval to enter OT&E.
  • Analysis of the system’s progress in achieving performance metrics (see CH 3–4.1.3. Technical Assessment Process).
  • Assessment of technical risk.
  • Assessment of software maturity and status of software trouble reports.
  • Identification of any potential design constraints affecting the system’s expected performance during OT&E.

In both the P&D and O&S phases the Systems Engineer should identify and plan for potential obsolescence impacts (i.e., Diminishing Manufacturing Sources and Material Shortages (DMSMS)). DMSMS problems are an increasing concern as the service lives of DoD weapon systems are extended and the product life cycle for high-technology system elements decreases.

The PCA is a SE audit typically conducted in the P&D phase (see CH 3–3.3.8. Physical Configuration Audit for additional information regarding the PCA). The Systems Engineer should identify technical risks associated with achieving entrance criteria for this audit (see the DoD Risk, Issue, and Opportunity Management Guide for Defense Acquisition Programs.)

Test activities during the P&D phase that depend on SE support and involvement include the DT&E Assessment, Operational Test Readiness Reviews (OTRRs), initial and follow-on OT&E (IOT&E and FOT&E) and live-fire test and evaluations (LFT&E), as appropriate (see CH 8–4.4.). In addition, any corrective actions or design changes implemented in response to test identified deficiencies require additional regression testing.

The Systems Engineer, in collaboration with the Chief Developmental Tester, should identify the technical support needed for operational assessments and document in the Test and Evaluation Master Plan (TEMP). Associated SE activities and plans should be in the SEP (see CH 3–2.2. Systems Engineering Plan, CH 3-3.3. Technical Reviews and Audits Overview, and CH 8–3.5.).

Systems Engineering Outputs and Products

Reference Source: DAG CH 3-3.2.5 Production and Deployment Phase

The technical outputs and products from the P&D phase identified in Table 25 are some of the inputs necessary to support SE processes in the O&S phase. They should support the program’s transition into full operations and sustainment. Technical outputs associated with technical reviews in this phase are addressed later in this chapter.

  • Informed advice to CPD Update
    • CPD may be updated to justify system enhancements and modifications from the P&D phase
  • Informed advice to ADM
  • Updated IMP, IMS, and MOAs/MOUs Validated system
    • Updated functional, allocated and product baselines; verified and validated production processes and validation results/decisions
    • Associated technical products including associated design and management decisions
  • PPP (updated)
    • Updated at FRP DR and/or FD DR
  • Trade-off analysis results
    • P&D Phase trade studies may support manufacturing or other system mods (technology insertion, technology refresh, etc.)
  • Assumptions and constraints
    • Rationale for all assumptions, constraints and basis for trades
  • ESOH analyses
    • Updated Programmatic Environment, Safety, and Occupational Health Evaluation (PESHE) and NEPA/EO 12114 Compliance Schedule
  • Assessment of technical risk (updated)
    • Risk assessment identifying mitigation plans, acceptable risks for achieving FOC
  • Interdependencies/interfaces/memoranda of agreement (MOAs)
    • Understanding of the unique program interdependencies, interfaces and associated
  • MOA
  • Life-Cycle Mission Data Plan for Intelligence Mission Data (IMD)-dependent programs (updated) 
  • System performance specification (updated if necessary) including verification matrix; system element specifications (updated if necessary) including verification matrix
  • Manufacturing and production metrics
  • PCA results and an updated product baseline 
  • Acceptance test data to assess product conformance and to support DD250 of end items Other technical information such as architectures, system models and simulations generated during the P&D phase
  • Technical information that is the basis of the updates to the Cost Analysis Requirements Description (CARD) and manpower documentation 
  • Industrial base capabilities; updated manufacturing processes and supply chain sources
  • Informed advice to Life-Cycle Sustainment Plan (LCSP)
    • Updated at FRP DR and/or FDDR
    • Updated will-cost values and affordability caps as documented in the LCSP, including informed advice to manpower documentation
    • Value engineering results, as appropriate 
    • Updated list of production tooling and facilities that need to be retained post-production to support continued operational and maintenance of the system.
  • Human Systems Integration (HSI) analyses
    • Final manpower and personnel requirements
    • Training program implementation
    • HSI participation in Engineering Change Proposal (ECP) process
  • Technical Outputs from P&D Phase
    • Human performance results (includes workload, situation awareness, time to perform tasks, errors)
  • Informed advice to TEMP (updated)
    • System Test Objectives
  • Operational Test and Evaluation (OT&E) Assessments/Reports
    • System Test Objectives
  • Draft and final RFP(s) for production and SE support to O&S activities
  • Informed advice for the Spectrum Supportability Risk Assessment 

T&E Considerations

Reference Source: DAG CH 8-4.4.1 T&E Execution during Production & Deployment

Test organizations are involved in the preparation for, and conduct of, DT&E during the P&D phase preceding IOT&E. If the DT&E during the preceding phases was designed to introduce the system under development to mission-oriented scenarios in operationally realistic environments, system capabilities and limitations are evident by now. The last DT&E preceding IOT&E includes the demonstration and verification of any corrections of deficiencies evidenced during earlier DT work. The focus on mission analysis and the system’s contribution to the mission imply that evaluations are not based solely on the extent to which a system meets KPPs and criteria accompanying critical issues. In addition to assessing how well system performance meets standards, test organizations also assess the system’s contribution to accomplishing the overall mission.


The Chief Developmental Tester plans for and ensures execution of DT events deemed necessary to address any remaining DT&E issues in order to assess entry into IOT&E and FRP.


The Service OTA conducts the IOT&E, executing the planned events based on the approved test plan.


The Service OTA or assigned test activity conducts the LFT&E, executing the planned events based on the approved LFT&E Plan.

First Article Testing (FAT) and Acceptance Testing (AT)

FAT and AT are two important test execution events during P&D. They are normally conducted by the contractor, using government-approved test plans and under the oversight of government personnel resident at the contractor facility (e.g., Defense Contract Management Agency (DCMA)) or project management office (PMO) personnel. As part of FAT, which tests the production processes, environmental stress screening (ESS), such as highly accelerated life testing (HALT), is conducted to identify and eliminate production flaws, such as bad soldering/welding, poor seal installation, etc. FAT may also test selected performance measures to ensure the production process does not degrade performance from earlier test findings. FAT is conducted expeditiously because the production line may continue to flow while FAT results are determined. AT is conducted on every delivered system and may be a limited functional test to ensure each system is properly working. It is important because it is the point where the government accepts ownership and responsibility of the system. It may also serve as the start point for the warranty coverage. The Chief Developmental Tester reviews and understands the contract details regarding FAT and AT.


FOT&E is conducted to complete unfinished IOT&E activity and evaluate major technical changes made to the system to correct identified deficiencies in the IOT&E. FOT&E evaluates whether or not the system continues to meet operational needs and retains operational effectiveness in a substantially new environment, as appropriate. It also provides a venue to address any OT&E and/or OTA recommendations provided in the IOT&E report.

Reference Source: DAG CH 8-4.4.2 T&E Support during Production & Deployment

Except as specifically approved by the MDA, critical deficiencies identified in EMD testing are resolved prior to proceeding beyond LRIP or Limited Deployment. Any remaining DT&E included in the Milestone C TEMP is conducted prior to proceeding to IOT&E. The Chief Developmental Tester and Lead DT&E Organization are involved in the preparation for, and conduct of, any remaining DT&E that precedes IOT&E. Over the system life cycle, operational needs, technology advances, evolving threats, plans for system upgrades/improvements (e.g. engineering change proposals (ECPs), etc.), or a combination of these items may require a TEMP to describe the associated test program.


Reference Source: DAG CH 8-4.4.3 T&E Planning during Production & Deployment

T&E activities include:

  • Reviewing and updating TEMPs, as required.
  • Updating VV&A plans.
  • Updating and coordinating DT&E test plans, if necessary.
  • Updating and coordinating OTA test plans.
  • Reviewing intelligence, threat, and CONOPS/OMS/MP documents for changes.
  • Preparing DT&E Program Assessment and OT reports.
  • Supporting OTRRs.

Updated TEMP

After the full rate production decision or the full deployment decision and thereafter, DOT&E and/or DASD(DT&E) may direct the DoD Component Acquisition Executive (CAE) to provide TEMP updates or addenda to articulate additional testing (e.g., FOT&E, Verification of Correction of Deficiencies periods, test program for future increments). The OTA may also request TEMP updates or addenda to articulate additional testing. provides additional information.

Test Articles for FOT&E (if required)

DOT&E approves the quantity of test articles required for all OT&E test events for any system under OSD OT&E oversight. For programs not on DOT&E oversight, the OTA determines the quantity of test articles required for all OT&E events, in accordance with 10 USC 2400.

T&E planning is also concerned with determining the mix of T&E best suited for a system’s production qualification, production acceptance, and sustainment. The DCMA or government-equivalent representatives and procedures may encompass the production evaluations at the contractor’s manufacturing site, or may require the T&E effort to establish and mature the processes. Therefore, the appropriate level of evaluation could range from none, for normal DCMA practices, to minimal for first article qualification checks, to more extensive evaluations based upon production qualification test (PQT) results for new or unique manufacturing techniques, especially with new technologies.

Refer to the DAG, Chapter, Quality Assurance Surveillance Plan, for information on Government Contract Quality Assurance (GCQA).


Reference Source: DAG CH 8-4.4.4 T&E Role during Production & Deployment

Operational Test Agency Report of OTA Results

The appropriate operational test agency conducts operational testing with LRIP units. After test completion, the Service OTA provides an independent report assessing the operational effectiveness, operational suitability, and survivability (including cybersecurity) or lethality of the system. For oversight programs, the Service OTA provides the report to DOT&E.

Beyond LRIP Report

The Director, DOT&E provides the MDA, Secretary of Defense, and Congress with a Beyond LRIP Report documenting the results of OT&E and providing the Director’s determination of whether the program proves operationally effective, operationally suitable, and survivable. For programs on the DOT&E Oversight List, operational testing occurs in accordance with the DOT&E-approved TEMP.

Full Rate Production (FRP)

The MDA conducts a review to assess the results of initial OT&E, initial manufacturing, and initial deployment, and then determines whether or not to approve the program’s proceeding to Full-Rate Production and/or Full Deployment. Continuing to Full-Rate Production and Deployment requires demonstrated control of the manufacturing process, acceptable performance and reliability, and the establishment of adequate sustainment and support systems.