U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Dot gov

Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.


Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock () or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.


  1. Home
  2. International Acquisition and Exportability (IA&E) Overview

International Acquisition and Exportability (IA&E) Overview

AINT 002


The responsibility to integrate international acquisition and exportability considerations into the program's acquisition strategy at each major milestone or decision point. This includes considering the potential demand and likelihood of cooperative development or production, Direct Commercial Sales, or Foreign Military Sales early in the acquisition planning process; and consider U.S. export control laws, regulations, and DoD policy for international transfers when formulating and implementing the acquisition strategy.

Alternate Definition
DoD acquisition workforce members in a wide variety of career fields are responsible for planning and implementation of IA&E activities within the Defense Acquisition System (DAS). This Article provides DoD personnel, U.S. Government (USG) stakeholders, and supporting industry with an overview of the IA&E aspects of the DAS to facilitate efficient and effective implementation of DoD IA&E efforts that support USG foreign policy and national security goals.
General Information

International Acquisition and Exportability (IA&E) refers to the entire spectrum of activities that the defense acquisition workforce engages in with allied and friendly nations and other foreign entities. 

There are six interrelated, mutually supportive IA&E elements. The first, IA&E Planning & Analysis, provides the overall framework for the other five elements. International Cooperative Programs (ICPs), Sales & Transfers, Defense Exportability, and Technology Security & Foreign Disclosure (TSFD) should all be considered, as appropriate, throughout the life cycle of each DoD acquisition program, project, or activity.

IA&E-related requirements and other considerations pertaining to these elements should also be incorporated into DoD contracts or other similar arrangements with private sector entities, as appropriate, in accordance with U.S. Government and DoD International Contracting policies.

IA&E Planning & Analysis

IA&E Planning and Analysis activities focus on conducting DoD Component program-level IA&E Assessments as early as possible in the lifecycle of new or modified DoD acquisition programs to collect information and assess factors that affect international considerations and potential foreign involvement including:

  • Interoperability requirements
  • Program protection considerations
  • Cooperative opportunities
  • International markets

IA&E Assessment results should be used to establish the international involvement aspects of a program’s initial Acquisition Strategy and provide a foundation for future IA&E efforts based on the sources of DoD acquisition policy.

  • DoD Directive (DoDD) 5000.01, The Defense Acquisition System: requires DoD acquisition programs to plan for coalition partners. 
  • DoD Instruction (DoDI) 5000.02, Operation of the Adaptive Acquisition Framework: requires Program Managers to consider acquisition strategies that leverage international acquisition and supportability planning to improve economies of scale, strengthen the defense industrial base, and enhance coalition partner capabilities. The Adaptive Acquisition Framework (AAF) in DoDI 5000.02 contains six acquisition pathways. IA&E planning and implementation is required in the Major Capability Acquisition (MCA) pathway (see DoDI 5000.85, Appendix 3C.4.) and may be advisable in Middle Tier of Acquisition (MTA) pathway rapid prototyping and rapid fielding efforts (see DoDI 5000.80, paragraphs 3.1.d. and 3.2.d).

International Cooperative Programs (ICPs)

An International Cooperative Program (ICP) is any acquisition program or technology project that includes participation by DoD on behalf of the U.S. Government and foreign nations or international organizations, through an international agreement, during any phase of a system’s life cycle.

ICPs are jointly funded, managed, and executed by U.S. and partner nation(s) on either a bilateral or multilateral basis as described in the international agreement. The risks and benefits are shared equitably. 

The results from the IA&E Assessment’s Cooperative Opportunities section should be used to establish the foundation for a program’s cooperative opportunities engagement and identification efforts. The Acquisition Strategy should be used to provide context to the evaluation of potential ICP efforts with allied/friendly nations or international organizations. Key activities in the ICP process include: 

  • Identification and Assessment of ICP Opportunities by DoD Component Program Management Offices (PMOs) and International Program Organizations
  • Conducting ICP Exploratory Discussions with allied/friendly nations or international organizations
  • Initiating and successfully completing the OUSD(A&S) International Agreements Process
  • Executing the ICP in accordance with signed international agreements

Defense Sales & Transfers

Defense Sales and Transfers activities focus on DoD Component planning, establishment, and execution of the program-level acquisition aspects of DoD Security Assistance and other defense sale-related Security Cooperation efforts in accordance with USG/DoD laws, regulations, policies, and practices. 

Security Cooperation is a broad DoD term used to describe a wide range of programs, activities, and initiatives directly supervised and/or managed by the DoD that: 

•Involve interaction with foreign defense and security counterparts around the world

•Encourage and enable international partners to work with the United States to achieve strategic objectives

•Include all DoD interactions with foreign defense and security establishments

•Provide U.S. forces with peacetime and contingency access to host nations

Security Assistance is a subset of Security Cooperation. Security Assistance not only provides defense articles, military education and training, and other defense-related services through sales, leases, grants, and loans, but it also provides military and economic assistance to U.S. allies and partners and supports US Foreign policy and national security objectives. 

Major Security Assistance Programs are:  Foreign Military Sales, Foreign Military Financing Program, Direct Commercial Sales, Economic Support Fund, International Military Education and Training (IMET), Peacekeeping Operations, Excess Defense Articles, and Leases and Loans. Some Security Assistance programs receive their funding through Congressional appropriations, while others typically must be paid by the partner nation. 

DoD Sales and Transfers include several types of Security Cooperation equipment and financing activities including: 

  • Foreign Military Sales (FMS)
  • Building Partnership Capacity (BPC) (often referred to as pseudo-FMS) 
  • Direct Commercial Sales (DCS)
  • FMS Hybrid Programs
  • Acquisition and Cross Servicing Agreements (ACSAs)

Defense Exportability Integration

Defense Exportability Integration activities focus on DoD Component planning, integrating, and executing the entire spectrum of program-level defense exportability efforts—Program Protection (International Considerations); navigating the USG/DoD TSFD Pipes; Exportability Design & Development; and International Security and Export Control Considerations—throughout the acquisition lifecycle. Adequate program protection measures must be incorporated for DoD systems and equipment that are proposed for partnership, sale, or transfer to allied/friendly nations and international organizations. The Program Protection Plan (or equivalent) must address exportable program protection in Sensitive Information (including Cybersecurity), Critical Program Information (CPI), and Trusted Systems and Networks (TSN) areas. CPI must be protected by either differential capability, anti-tamper (AT) protection measures, or some combination of both. 

  • Differential Capability: modifying or removing technologies and/or capabilities from DoD systems or equipment that are prohibited for export to produce exportable versions, incorporating unique capabilities desired by the foreign partner, or both.
  • Anti-Tamper: engineering activities intended to prevent or delay exploitation of CPI in DoD systems, thereby impeding countermeasure development, unintended technology transfer, and reverse engineering.

Technology Security Foreign Disclosure (TSFD) and Export Control 

Technology Security and Foreign Disclosure (TSFD) and export control are major factors in any program with international aspects. The U.S. seeks to achieve a careful, deliberate balance between the risks of transferring controlled technology and information that provide U.S. warfighters an advantage in combat against the benefits of international participation and coalition warfare capability. TSFD activities focus on DoD Component program-level navigation of the USG/DoD TSFD system, which involves engaging a semi-autonomous collection of various TSFD processes—colloquially referred to as the TSFD “Pipes”—that issue both broad and specific TSFD policy guidance applicable to all Under Secretary of Defense (USD) (Acquisition & Sustainment), USD(Research & Engineering), USD(Policy), and DoD Component IA&E efforts.

International Contracting

DoD international contracting efforts generally use the same contracting policies and practices employed in domestic programs; however, there are additional international acquisition-specific requirements, criteria, and contract clauses that should be considered and used, as applicable, depending on the nature of the international acquisition effort being pursued. Contracting officers support PMs/IPTs on both domestic and international programs by planning and implementing international contracting activities throughout the acquisition life cycle. 

International Contracting activities focus on DoD Component program-level efforts in support of domestic, hybrid U.S.-foreign, and foreign-unique contracting efforts in the following areas:

     Conducting international business with DoD acquisition organizations

     Buy American Statute and Reciprocal Defense Procurement (RDP) Agreement implementation

     Restrictions on DoD purchases from non-U.S. Sources (e.g., Berry Amendment, Specialty Metals, etc.)

•     DoD and Allied/Friendly Nation procurement organization engagement.

International Considerations in the Acquisition Strategy

U.S. law and DoD policy require PMO and DoD Component consideration and documentation of the international acquisition aspects of a program during the development and coordination of a program’s Acquisition Strategy. The Acquisition Strategy, in its various iterations, should address the relevant IA&E aspects of the program throughout its life cycle. 


If you have any questions, concerns, or would like to provide input to update this article, please contact the DAU International Center at [email protected].