By Tim Johnson - March 4th, 2021 | Posted in Article

The Use Study used to be a part of the provided documentation at the start of a Defence contract.

For those of us who have not been touched by Mil Std 1388, and Def Stan 00-60, a Use Study is a report which and I quote from 1388, “Purpose, to identify and document the pertinent supportability factors related to the intended use of the new system/equipment.”

Historically the Use Study contained all the information about the existing support infrastructure including organisations and the specific skills and capabilities available at each location. As an example the Use Study for Eurofighter, aka Typhoon, was organised into 5 sections one for each of the 4 partner airforces and a generic fifth, which was the basis for support modelling. The Use Study detail described the capabilities for depot and maintenance units, of course this was in the day when the RAF had level 3 maintenance capabilities.

This enabled support to be standardised across the 4 airforces with national specific impacts identified.

The up front analysis /data gathering provided a baseline documented view of the support available for the new system/equipment. This also enabled the impact of the new system/equipment on the extant support system to be identified early in the development phase.

An example on Typhoon, was the potential reuse of the Houchin ground power generator, the Use Study contained the power characteristics of the generator which could be used to determine if the aircraft power requirements were actually satisfied by this legacy equipment, or modifications, or a replacement would be required.

The Use Study also contained specific aspects of the support that could not, or should not be altered by the new system/equipment. There are some processes and systems which are strategic to the organisation which the new system has to integrate with, and failure to follow would drive cost into the support solution. An example of this is a variety of navigation systems deployed on different classes of warship, this results in the regular chart upgrades. This requires the same updated information rolled out in multiple system specific versions, rather than a single update to all platforms. This increases the configuration control burden and obviously cost.

I believe the answer with the reduction and outsourcing of the support to all the armed forces results in a lack of visibility of the capabilities of the support system. I have absolutely no idea what capabilities the local Ford dealership has, all I do is book a service and deliver the car and pay the bill.

This is the way defence support has evolved. Using the maritime example, Ship’s staff report a fault which requires dock side support this support is provided and the ship is repaired, the Navy can now only see the bill.

That is where the Use Study has gone, as all it would say is “if it breaks we call a contractor”.

This makes reversing the trend very difficult as no single project will be able to afford the reintroduction of non contractor support solutions.