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Site Activation and System Fielding


Alternate Definition

Site activation and system fielding includes the processes by which systems and equipment are delivered to and put into service by operational units in the field. These processes should address the full product support package and all sustainment requirements (e.g. materiel / equipment / facilities / personnel / technical data / training). They need to address all elements needed to achieve Initial Operational Capability (IOC) as well as operate and sustain the system over the life cycle.

General Information


As required by DoD Instruction (DoDI) 5000.91Product Support Management for the Adaptive Acquisition Framework, programs are required to address product support and sustainment across the life cycle in the Product Support Strategy (PSS), as captured in the LCSP.  Specifically: "The PSM will document the initial PSS within the acquisition strategy (AS) at program inception, and then in the LCSP, at Milestone (MS) A or an equivalent decision event for covered systems.” The LCSP is the detailed product support plan, including sustainment metrics, risks, costs, and analyses used to deliver the performance-based best value strategy covering the Integrated Product Support elements."  Additionally, DoDI 5000.91 states that "the LCSP is the primary program management reference governing operations and support planning and execution from program inception to disposal."

In accordance with section 8 of the LCSP Outline, the integrated schedule needs to include all significant program activities which must be performed to produce, field, and sustain the system - Major site activation activities for the weapon system and related supply support, maintenance, and training systems, including events for contractor support (interim, long term, hybrid partnerships). Additional planning material may be developed as a stand-alone document, as an annex to the program AS, the LCSP, or embedded within the AS or LCSP itself. Each Service has tailored approaches related to these requirements.

Independent Logistics Assessments (ILA) will address the sufficiency of system deployment and fielding planning and actions, and the DoD Logistics Assessment Guidebook as well as the associated Services' guidebooks provide details into required actions by program phase.  

Service Specifics

US Air Force (USAF)

Listed below are the key instructions/pamphlets regarding USAF site activation and fielding activities:

  1. AFI 63-101Acquisition and Sustainment Life Cycle Management,  defines materiel fielding, both process and objective, and also mandates a Materiel Fielding Plan (MFP) describing development, content, approval, usage, and update.
  2. AFI 10-503Strategic Basing, applies to the Air Force Reserve Command (AFRC), Air National Guard (ANG) component of National Guard Bureau (NGB) and other Services/Agencies requesting basing actions of one year or longer. It provides procedures for all basing requests on USAF real property and also applies to USAF units requesting basing actions on non-USAF real property. It provides an enterprise-wide repeatable process for decision making to ensure all basing actions involving USAF units and missions support USAF mission requirements and comply with all applicable guidance. The process begins with a Basing Action Request (BAR), submitted online or by email, followed by an evaluative and coordinative process overarchingly referred to as the Air Force Strategic Basing Structure (AFSBS) which enables basing decisions by supporting an enterprise-wide, criteria-based review, with the decision-making process as described in the instruction.
  3. AFPAM 63-128Integrated Life Cycle Management (Chapter 10 Fielding Procedures) provides guidance and recommended procedures for implementing Integrated Life Cycle Management (ILCM) for USAF personnel who develop, review, approve, or manage systems, subsystems, end-items, and services, including fielding of such materiel. Chapter 10 of the pamphlet provides extensive guidance on fielding procedures, in effort to ensure sufficient planning is conducted in advance of anticipated materiel delivery dates, allowing both the materiel developer and the user to identify, understand, and resolve issues associated with the materiel, and to ensure sufficient time is available to develop the infrastructure necessary to operate and sustain the materiel, including the operations, maintenance, and mission support personnel who employ, repair, and support the materiel in the field. Extensive planning and assessment criteria and checklists are provided, including issues, planning and decisions appropriate to each of the various weapon system life cycle acquisition phases, tailored for the type of materiel release contemplated.

US Army

In AR 770-2Materiel Fielding, the process of materiel fielding is described in detail. DA Pam 770-3, Type Classification and Materiel Release Procedures, discusses fielding in terms of Materiel Release (MR) actions, including use of the Materiel Release Tracking System (MRTS). The system contains references, background data and approvals and other related information for the ongoing process of creating, maintaining, tracking and reporting of all MR actions over time. This is required at Milestone B, or no later than 24 months prior to the Army's Full Materiel Release (FMR) or Full Rate Production (FRP) date. The MRTS includes required ‘get-well’ plans for all MR other than FMR. All this information is documented as necessary in the MFP. The MFP identifies physical, informational, and operational security requirements of all equipment in the fielding effort; any contractor support services being fielded; the post fielding support concept to include interim measures, maintenance concepts and warranties; and identification of any equipment and software being displaced by the fielding and facility requirements, to include National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) or other related environmental documentation. 

US Navy (USN)

Overall Department of Navy (DON) requirements regarding Site Activation and System Fielding are as follows:

  1. SECNAVINST 5400.15DDepartment of the Navy RDA-Associated Life-Cycle Management and Logistics Responsibilities and Accountability
  2. SECNAVINST 5000.2FDefense Acquisition System and Joint Capabilities Integration and Development System Implementation
  3. OPNAVINST 9410.5DNavy Tactical Command, Control and Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance Interoperability Procedural Standands Requirements, Certifications, and Testing

Additionally, joint instruction NAVSEAINST 9410.2A/NAVAIRINST 5230.20A/SPAWARINST 5234.1A, Naval Warfare Systems Certification Policy, is a key element in determining a system’s readiness for fielding or ‘fleet introduction’ as it is often referred to in the Navy. Since 1998, this instruction defines the policy and process for certifying warfare systems for Navy surface ships. The instruction is applicable to all new or newly modified Navy shipboard equipment for all the Navy SYSCOMS (NAVSEA, NAVAIR, SPAWAR), to help ensure fielded systems are properly matured, tested, integrated and appropriate. Certification confirms that a standard/specification has been met. When the applicable standard/specification is not met, a rigorous risk assessment process is executed using statements of fact, quantitative or qualitative, pertaining to the quality of a product or service based on observations, measurements, or tests that can be verified. Certification requires approved warfare systems, and configuration changes can only occur with NAVSEA and Fleet approval.

A separate office of NAVSEA conducts Warfare Systems Installation Assessments (WSIA) and Warfare Systems Certification Decisions (WSCD) to support the installation and deployment of warfare systems. The purpose of the WSIA is to provide an early assessment of risk and characterization of the warfare systems maturity and readiness to support sail-away and any shipboard test and training events. It also provides an assessment of the warfare system's maturity and readiness to support an authorization for installation of the warfare systems in the subject ship. The purpose of a WSCD is to provide a warfare systems certification decision as to the warfare systems maturity and readiness to support throughout deployment with all certification criteria are met no later than three months prior to deployment.

Certification assessment criteria to be evaluated prior to fleet introduction includes operationally stressful endurance tests, interoperability, numbers of open trouble reports, evaluation of organizational manning and training to support the system, tactics, techniques and procedures (TTP) assessment, and completed Warfare Systems Certification Plan (WSCP). The WSCP is a senior panel chartered by NAVSEA, to evaluate “Objective Quality Evidence” as part of certification consideration. This includes information and certifications from PEO, et al, regarding SE, testing, tools and equipment, ordnance safety and security, operational impacts, etc.

OPNAVINST 9410.5C provides similar guidance relating to procedural interface standards, interoperability, certification of, and testing for naval command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (C4ISR) systems. The certification process and fielding considerations discussed here are similar to those of the Naval Warfare Systems Certification Policy previously discussed.

On the aviation side, the certification and fleet introduction process is similar, but usually conducted by Fleet Introduction Teams (FIT) chartered for that purpose for a specific weapon system. For example, the Unmanned Carrier Launched Airborne Surveillance and Strike (UCLASS) FIT, established in 2016, was initiated and funded by OPNAV, under the purview of the associated Wing, and in accordance with the applicable master aviation plan. The FIT charter stated it would “…plan, integrate and execute what is required to establish the initial operational capability for the UCLASS program to full operational capability, as well as determine squadron requirements for manpower, training, maintenance logistics, carrier integration, optimized fleet response plan, information technology, interoperability, security and budget. Additionally, the team will determine what infrastructure and base operating support is needed for UCLASS and associated fleet integration and support requirements.”

Similarly, when replacement of the Navy’s P-3 Maritime Patrol aircraft by the new Multi-Mission Maritime Aircraft (MMA) began, the MMA FIT worked the same processes, in addition to serving as a communication conduit between the program office, developer and the ultimate user, for issues relating to continuity, liaison, training, guidance and related support. A FIT‘s role may evolve depending on the life cycle phase; for example between advisor/consultant to a developer, to more of a training and initial support role for operating forces, while coordinating all fleet introduction issues. That is the ideal FIT lifespan, when the contractor or developer solicits FIT input, when the program office relies on and promotes FIT participation, and when the Fleet either contributes to or validates the value of FIT contributions.


Materiel fielding is the process of physically transferring Weapon Systems/Equipment (WS/E) from the developer, COMMARCORSYSCOM, to the operational forces, supporting establishment and/or stores. Fielding is the transition from acquisition to the operational support phase of a WS/E's life cycle.

The MCSC Fielding Process was developed to standardize Command-wide Fielding guidance for all USMC Acquisition Category (ACAT) Programs; improve communication and coordination between all stakeholders; and establish the Fielding Plan Template and Formal Fielding Decision to ensure fielded systems are safe, operate as designed, and are logistically supportable before deploying and transferring systems or equipment from the acquisition organization to the operating forces.

Additionally, the MARCORSYSCOM Acquisition Guidebook (MAG) states: “Fielding is the process of initially deploying and transferring systems, capabilities, and equipment from the acquisition organization to the operating forces and supporting establishments. Programs just prior to MS C are directed by MCSCO 4105.10, Marine Corps Systems Command Fielding Decision Process for All Marine Corps Systems Command Acquisition Programs, to use the fielding process to ensure using units are ready to accept the weapon system. The process includes the development of a formal fielding plan and an examination by both the acquisition and operational communities to ensure the systems are ready to be fielded, that they can be logistically supported, that the operators have been trained, and that the operational forces are prepared to receive the additional items.”

USMC-specific policy is as follows:

  1. Marine Corps Order (MCO) 5000.23Policy for the Fielding of Ground Weapon Systems and Equipment
  2. MCSC Order 4105.10, MCSC Fielding Decision and Process