Major Capability Acquisition (MCA)

AAF  >  MCA  >  Sustain System

Sustain System

How to use this site

Each page in this pathway presents a wealth of curated knowledge from acquisition policies, guides, templates, training, reports, websites, case studies, and other resources. It also provides a framework for functional experts and practitioners across DoD to contribute to the collective knowledge base. This site aggregates official DoD policies, guides, references, and more.

DoD and Service policy is indicated by a BLUE vertical line.

Directly quoted material is preceeded with a link to the Reference Source.



Reference Source: DAG CH 4-2.2 Life Cycle Sustainment Overview 


Life cycle sustainment planning is a key function of the defense acquisition system for the development of military capabilities. The goal of life cycle sustainment planning is to maximize readiness by delivering the best possible product support outcomes at the lowest O&S Cost.

While weapon system sustainment does not actually begin until the first production units are fielded, sustainment planning begins at the earliest stages of the defense acquisition system. Successful post- fielding sustainment performance depends on critical thinking during requirements development and solution analysis.

Product Support and Sustainment Across the Lifecycle

Reference Source: DODI 5000.85 Section 3D.2


Sustainment planning and O&S cost affordability are an integral element of the capability requirements and acquisition process from program inception, including requirements outlined in Sections 2334, 2337, 2337a, 2366a, 2366b, 2366c, 2441, 2443, 2448a, and 2474 of Title 10, U.S.C., and in the JCIDS Manual, Annex D, Sustainment KPP Guide.


DoD Components, Service resource managers, and PEOs ensure that early program development and design includes affordable readiness and maintainability, including the integrated risk management of systems engineering, PSSs, and O&S costs as reflected in the AoA and acquisition strategies. Additionally, capability portfolio management and affordability determination processes inform DoD Component cost positions and program life-cycle estimates, requirements, acquisition strategies, and PS strategies.


As the total life-cycle manager, the PM, with the support of the PSM, will develop and implement an affordable and effective performance-based support package that satisfies the statutory requirements outlined below.


Performance-Based PSSs

The following will be conducted pursuant to Section 2337 of Title 10, U.S.C.:

Support Packages.  Implement performance-based support packages that utilize performance metrics. Support packages are based on the output of a PS BCA, and are intended to satisfy warfighter relevant performance requirements that facilitate enduring and affordable sustainment. They will use, track and adjust appropriate metrics to meet warfighter operational support requirements over the system life cycle, and include the best use of public and private sector capabilities through government/industry partnering initiatives, in accordance with statutory requirements.

PS BCA. The PS BCA validates the support package, and it is the means to tailor a PSS by weighing cost benefits and identifying key risks which enable appropriate trade-off analyses.

PSS.  Detailed in Paragraph 3D.3. of this appendix, the PSS is the principle document governing the system’s product support planning and sustainment.  Support packages are documented within the PSS.


Government Owned Inventory

Ensure that PS arrangements for the weapon system describe how such arrangements will ensure efficient procurement, management, and allocation of existing government-owned parts inventories prior to use and to prevent unnecessary procurement of such parts as required by Section 2337 of Title 10, U.S.C. When executing commercial PS strategies, programs should draw on existing on-hand and due-in government inventory prior to procuring items from commercial providers. The PM will coordinate with cognizant government inventory managers to ensure they are aware of the reduction in demand. This will ensure stocking levels are adjusted to reflect reduced future demand given the program’s planned reliance on commercial sources of supply.



Reliability, Availability, and Maintainability (RAM) Improvement

Pursuant to Section 2337a of Title 10, U.S.C., with significant refinement after Milestone C and IOC, PMs are to develop a RAM improvement strategy, at an affordable cost, that will utilize failure trend analyses, updated  failure modes, effects and criticality analysis (or defect tracking for software), and other engineering data sources derived during the systems engineering process in accordance with DoDI 4151.22 and DoDD 4151.18. The RAM improvement strategy will minimize total life-cycle cost and employ the full spectrum of maintenance support structures available to sustain military materiel including organic or unique military capabilities, performance based support packages in accordance with Paragraph 3D.2.b.(1), commercial sector support, partnering, and competition as applicable.


System Modifications

At Milestone C and beyond, ensure initiations of system modifications, as necessary, to improve performance, enhance sustainability, and reduce ownership costs, is consistent with limitations prescribed in Section 2244a of Title 10, U.S.C. Additionally, the PM and PSM will validate the support package considerations outlined in Paragraphs 3D.2.c.(1) – (7) through a PS BCA:


Software PS Planning

As defined in Section 252.227-7014 of the DFARS, identification of how and when noncommercial computer software, noncommercial computer software documentation, and other material and activities required to maintain and sustain the software after IOC (for programs not using the Software Acquisition Pathway), will be provided to the government to enable life-cycle software management with necessary data rights and rights in computer software and/or computer software documentation.

Identification of the relevant plans that will be leveraged to discuss life-cycle software management efforts (e.g., software development plan (specification number DI-IPSC-81427 B) and software transition plan (specification number DI-IPSC-81429 A)).


Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) Storage and Distribution Capacity

Ensure PMs responsible for renewal of sustainment contracts that include public-private partnerships with DoD maintenance depots, when supported by a PS BCA analysis, will include the use of DLA storage and distribution capacity in the terms of renewal public-private partnership arrangements and negotiate the transfer of government-owned inventory from commercial to DLA facilities, as specified in the arrangement.


Inventory Accountability

Ensure sustainable and auditable inventory processes that produce accurate accountability of DoD-owned assets with a full reconciliation to the financial records.  Determine a baseline physical count for all DoD-owned assets (inventory/operating materials and supplies/equipment/real property), including both government property being managed by a contractor and that is being furnished to a contractor.  Maintain and fully reconcile accountability of the inventory baseline in the financial records and the system of records designated for DoD-owned assets, with the location, quantity, and current condition of all unconsumed DoD-owned assets in the designated system of record; and internal controls for accountability of all items moving in or out after establishing the baseline.


Unique Automatic Test Equipment (ATE)

Minimize unique ATE by utilizing designated DoD automatic test system families for all ATE hardware and software in DoD field and depot operations.  Leverage common commodities (component items, support equipment, and support items) to the maximum extent possible before pursuing unique solutions to reduce support cost and logistical impacts.


Facilities and Real Property

Planning for facilities management of real property investments (facilities and infrastructure) necessary for training, operations and sustainment support will incorporate value engineering in accordance with DoDI 4245.14.


Weapons System PMs

As defined in Volume 3 of DoD Manual 4140.01, weapons system PMs, with Military Department and DLA participation, as appropriate:

Develop and select performance-based materiel support strategies that optimize total system and materiel availability while minimizing O&S costs and logistics footprint.

Integrate weapon system-oriented approaches with commodity- or force-oriented approaches while taking into consideration existing strategic supplier alliances to derive the best value blend of existing and evolving, organic and commercial, weapon system-unique and common support structures, and: Give consideration to existing organic supplies. Develop performance arrangements with organic, public sector or government support providers and performance contracts with support providers that ensure weapon systems and equipment are fully supported to meet the established sustainment objectives prior to the system’s IOC.



Support strategies to meet dependencies on intelligence data and Intelligence Community-provided data sources.

Sustainment Metrics

Reference Source: DODI 5000.85 Section 3D.4


The sustainment and energy KPPs are as critical to a program’s success as cost, schedule, and performance.  PMs will use availability, sustainment, and energy cost metrics as triggers to conduct further investigation and analysis into drivers of those metrics, to develop “should cost” targets, and to develop strategies for improving reliability, availability, maintainability, and energy supportability, resilience, and conservation of such systems at a reduced cost.

  • The materiel availability KPP, as defined in the JCIDS Manual Sustainment KPP Guide, will be based on the entire system inventory, including attrition reserve and prepositioned systems, and covers the timeframe from placement into operational service through the planned end of service life.
  • As required in the JCIDS Manual, the energy KPP ensures combat capability by balancing the energy performance of systems and the provisioning of energy resources to sustain all required systems/forces by the operational commander in relevant threat environments.
  • Availability KPPs are supported by the sustainment KSAs and metrics outlined in this paragraph:


Reliability (Mission Reliability and Logistics Reliability)

As required by the JCIDS Manual, mission reliability and logistics reliability are the design metrics that have the most significant impact on the program’s operational availability and O&S cost.


Maintainability (Corrective Maintenance and Maintenance Burden)

As required by the JCIDS Manual, corrective maintenance, and the required maintenance burden, impact design and the program’s operational availability and O&S cost.



Energy performance is a key component of system and unit performance and relates to the required energy consumption needed to perform functions or tasks in operational modes, mission profiles and durations, and environmental conditions.  Demands for fuel and electric power in capability solutions will be optimized, because they directly affect the demand on the force to provide and protect critical energy supplies.  System fuel and electric power demands, and operation when not connected to main utilities or when not receiving supply supporting the extended periods that are consistent with support for strategic analysis products, will be included.


O&S Cost

DoD Components will ensure reliability and maintainability data from operational and developmental testing and evaluation, fielding, all levels of repair and their associated manpower, and real property informs estimates of O&S costs for major weapon systems.


Mean Down Time

The average total downtime required to restore an asset to its operational capability, measures the effectiveness of the supply chain and support infrastructure (e.g., customer wait time, logistics response time, retrograde time).  It is an important element in assessing a system’s affordability across its life cycle and identifies constraints and opportunities of a system’s support package and PS arrangements.


Other Metrics

Outcome metrics to support sustainment elements included in capability requirements documentation or required by the DoD Component to manage the system development, support package, and supply chain to develop and maintain the system.  Additional metrics that measure the cost of achieved availability, which correlates funds spent on sustainment and the resulting, measured, operational and materiel availabilities of the system, aid in assessing the efficiency and effectiveness of a program’s current PS arrangement.

Product Support Assessments and Reviews

Reference Source: DODI 5000.85 Section 3D.5


The PM and PSM will continually assess the PS and logistics approach that support DoD Component-level program support assessments and technical reviews (e.g., systems engineering and test) to ensure the system design and PS performance are integrated to achieve the sustainment metrics and inform applicable modeling and simulation tools.  Assessments and reviews assist PMs, PSMs, system operators and maintainers, resource sponsors, and materiel enterprise stake holders to take corrective action to prevent degraded materiel readiness or O&S cost growth on a recurring basis no less than every 5 years.  The assessments and reviews outlined in this section are required, and their results will inform the PSS and analyses as appropriate.


Independent Logistics Assessments (ILAs)

Pursuant to Section 2337a of Title 10, U.S.C., DoD Components will conduct ILAs for each major weapon system prior to key acquisition decision points, including Milestones B and C and the FRP decision, to assess the adequacy of the support package, and to identify sustainment cost elements, factors, risks, and gaps that are likely to drive future O&S costs, changes to system design that could reduce costs, and effective strategies for managing such costs.


The ILA will focus on PS and sustainment planning, and the execution of that planning to include core logistics analyses and establishment of organic capabilities.  Each DoD Component will establish its criteria for independence of the agency or program office conducting the ILA, and will provide:

  • Guidance to ensure consistency within the respective DoD Component.
  • The scope of the assessment for key acquisition decision points.  At a minimum, these reviews will be chartered by the CAE and conducted by logistics, program management, and business experts from outside the program office.


ILA reports will include analysis of the weapon system-level PS performance in satisfying warfighter needs, meeting sustainment metrics, and providing best-value outcomes.  They must specifically assess O&S costs to identify and address factors resulting in growth in O&S costs and adapt strategies to reduce such costs.  DoD Components will continue to conduct and report ILA results to the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Sustainment via the OSD Acquisition Information Repository upon completion of the ILA report or sustainment review (SR) report.


Sustainment Reviews (SR)

Pursuant to Section 2441 of Title 10, U.S.C., DoD Component Secretaries will conduct an SR of each major weapon system to include MDAPs no later than 5 years after IOC to assess the PS performance and O&S costs of the weapon system.  For each review after the first one, the Secretary concerned will use availability and reliability thresholds and cost estimates as the basis for the circumstances that prompt such a review.  The MDA will document results in a memorandum with supporting documentation for each SR made available to the USD(A&S) within 30 days after SR completion via the Acquisition Information Repository.  Pursuant to Section 2441(c) of Title 10, U.S.C., the SR will be conducted in coordination with the requirements of Sections 2337 and 2337a of Title 10, U.S.C.


In addition to the required elements detailed in Section 2441 of Title 10, U.S.C., it is recommended that DoD Components consider the following:

  • Pursuant to Section 2337a of Title 10, U.S.C., DoD Component resource managers provide capability portfolio management-based O&S cost affordability analysis, results, and recommend strategies to mitigate any intractable resource issues.  Capability portfolio management O&S cost affordability analysis could include an updated DoD Component stacked area chart (i.e., a “sand chart”) for the operations and management appropriation with underlying spreadsheets.
  • Results of the most recent ILA with a mitigation plan and plan of action and milestones.
  • Comparison of current to previous SR data to include the analysis of government and contractor performance of sustainment design metrics compared to those needed for successful operational and mission performance such as readiness and O&S cost metrics, and analysis of energy resilience metrics as defined by the energy KPP.
  • Identification of requirements/performance thresholds and critical parts affected by threat projections, and DMSMS or Obsolescence for follow-on reviews.
  • Status and currency of industrial base requirements in support of materiel readiness.