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Acquisition Life Cycle


​The relationship between the acquisition phases and work efforts, and key program events such as decision points and reviews. It employs acquisition processes that match the characteristics of the capability being acquired.

General Information

The management framework for defense systems acquisition is also commonly referred to as the acquisition life cycle. Program managers tailor/streamline this model to the maximum extent possible, consistent with technical risk, to provide new systems to the warfighter as fast as possible. This event based process provides for multiple entry points consistent with a program's technical maturity, validated requirements, and funding. Entrance criteria for each phase of the life cycle guide the Milestone Decision Authority (MDA) in determining the appropriate point for a program to enter the acquisition process.

The life cycle process consists of periods of time called phases separated by decision points called milestones.  Milestones and other decision points provide both the program manager and MDAs the framework with which to review acquisition programs, monitor and administer progress, identify problems, and make corrections. The MDA will approve entrance into the appropriate phase or effort of the acquisition process by signing an acquisition decision memorandum upon completion of a successful decision review.

The life cycle of a program begins with planning to satisfy a mission need before the program officially begins. Program initiation normally occurs at Milestone B. The life cycle process takes the program through research, development, production, deployment, support, upgrade, and finally, demilitarization and disposal.