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Technical Manuals (TM)


A publication that contains instructions for the installation, operation, maintenance, training, and support of weapon systems, weapon system components, and support equipment. TM information may be presented in any form or characteristic, including but not limited to hard copy, audio and visual displays, magnetic tape, discs, and other electronic devices. A TM normally includes operational and maintenance instructions, parts lists or parts breakdown, and related technical information or procedures exclusive of administrative procedures. Technical Orders (TOs) that meet the criteria of this definition may also be classified as TM.

General Information

TMs can include the following types of publications:

  • Paper-based TM - The display of technical information in a static printed form.
  • Electronic Technical Manual (ETM) -  Is the electronic display of technical information instead of the static printed form (e.g., on paper)
  • Interactive Electronic Technical Manual (IETM) -  Is an ETM, where the user can interact with the displayed system information.
  • Commercial-Off-the-Shelf Technical (COTS) TM - An existing commercially available technical publication that is not developed with Government funding. Expanded COTS TM information is as follows - 
    • They support "off-the-shelf" Commercial Item (CI) equipment or system
    • COTS TM data may be proprietary and / or contain copyright material
  • International Interactive Electronic Technical Publication (S1000D) -
    • Is a TM that is developed using the Aerospace Industries Associations (AIA) S1000D specification, commonly used in aerospace, defense and capital-intensive equipment systems.
    • The S1000D process is based upon the principle of information reuse via data modules to produce technical information that is structured to make it deliverable in a wide variety of electronic formats, as well as traditional printed manuals. S1000D provides guidance and flexibility to users in the development of common business rules for the development of technical publications.
    • It leverages off of a Common Source Database (CSDB), similar to an Interactive Data Environment (IDE), which captures the tagged metadata that can be reused to produce not only technical publication information but also maintenance procedures and training materials as well. This helps to ensure the integration, consistency and ease of update of technical data across the Integrated Product Support (IPS) Elements.
    • Although there is no current DoD-wide policy on the mandatory adoption of S1000D, the Services are selectively adopting S1000D through the creation of common business rules that can be tailored to a specific program. These business rules can be found for each service:
  • TO (Air Force-specific) -  Include all manuals developed or acquired for organic operation, maintenance, inspection, modification, or management of centrally acquired and managed for Air Force systems and end items. This includes manuals for paper and electronic data delivery developed IAW TM Specifications and Standards (TMSS), non-embedded personal computer software which automates the function directed by a TO, contractor-developed manuals adopted for Air Force use, and approved COTS manuals.
  • Software Documentation - Includes written text that accompanies computer software. It either explains how it operates or how to use it, or may mean different things to people in different roles. Like other forms of technical documentation, good software documentation benefits from an organized process of development. Software documentation includes user, installation, administration, and design documentation. It also includes guidelines on how to install and maintain the software in a way that provides security.

TM Integrated Product Team (IPT) Roles and Responsibilities

The development of TMs is truly a team effort, and a robust IPT is crucial to the the development and delivery of timely and targeted TMs. The Program Manager (PM) is ultimately responsible for ensuring that the elements of a technical publications strategy are implemented correctly for the program, but needs to rely on leaders from pertinent project areas are identified and empowered. Each program should establish a team to research and develop an TM Concept of Operations (CONOPS) for the life of the system, and to define system/equipment Operational & Maintenance (O&M) data requirements and functionality in order to sources the selected TM approach. 

The Product Support Manager (PSM), who often serves as the orchestrator of the TM approach, should ensure that the IPT contains adequate representation from program management, logistics and engineering disciplines, as well as design agents, training, and applicable user activities. Their general functions and requirements are described below, as are their typical roles and responsibilities:

  • PSM - For major acquisition programs, the PSM is responsible for -
    • Creating, validating, delivering, maintaining, and updating TMs in any format and for implementation
    • Execution and management of technical documentation processes supporting the weapon systems or equipment
    • Providing technical writers with engineering and technical data.
  • Life Cycle Logistician -
    • Leads the procurement of TMs, training and courseware materials (if applicable)
    • Monitors the process and progress for any system under the PSM’s cognizance
  • Systems or Sustaining Engineer -
    • Defines technical requirements for the program system
    • Assists in interpreting and validating technical information that will produce the TM and courseware
    • Acts as the Government agent for technical issues and provides additional technical support functions.
  • Developer / Design Agent (i.e.,. Usually the weapon system contractor) -
    • Provides initial technical data for the program and may author the technical content
  • Technical Writer -
    • Verifies the TM outline, using logistics input data and information regarding the target users/warfighters
    • Provides initial TM drafts for in-house technical and equipment publications, for all applicable types of TMs (including IETMs)
    • Provides proposed changes and alterations to the deliverable products during the development process and throughout the life cycle
  • Training Agent
    • Provides and maintains the training facility and curriculum after a ready-for-training date has been reached
  • User/Warfighter
    • Personnel who use the TM to gather information or perform work (e.g., maintainer, operator)
    • Participates in the TM verification
    • Provides feedback based on real life usage