Military acquisition or defense acquisition is the "bureaucratic management and procurement process", dealing with a nation's investments in the technologies, programs, and product support necessary to achieve its national security strategy and support its armed forces. Its objective is to acquire products that satisfy specified needs and provide measurable improvement to mission capability at a fair and reasonable price.
Modern military acquisition is a complex blend of science, management, and engineering disciplines within the context of a nation's law and regulation framework to produce military material and technology. This complexity evolved from the increasing complexity of weapon systems starting in the 20th century. For example, the Manhattan Project involved more than 130,000 people at an estimated cost of nearly $24 billion in 2008 dollars.
In the twenty-first century, the trend has been for countries to cooperate in military procurement, due to the rising cost-per-unit of digital age military hardware such as ships and jets. For example, NORDEFCO (established 2009), a grouping of Nordic countries that cooperate in defence spending, the Defence and Security Co-operation Treaty, signed between the United Kingdom and France in 2010, and Joint Strike Fighter program, which selected the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II in 2001, included the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, Italy, Canada, the Netherlands, Norway, Denmark, Turkey, Israel and Japan.
Major activities related to military acquisition are:
EU member states' procurement of arms, munitions, war material and related works and services acquired for defence purposes and procurement of sensitive supplies, works and services required for security purposes are subject to EU Directive 2009/81/EC on Defence and Sensitive Security Procurement. The purpose of the directive is to balance the need for transparency and openness in defence markets within the European Single Market with the need to protect individual countries’ security interests.
Because of the size and scope of such a bureaucracy, the US Department of Defense instituted an extensive training program, known as the Defense Acquisition University.
In Canada, military acquisition falls under three separate government departments: the Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC); the Department of National Defence (DND); Innovation, Science and Economic Development (ISED).
ISED is responsible for defining and administering the Industrial and Technological Benefits (ITB) and Value Proposition (VP), which are offsets applied to the selected defense procurements. ISED may apply offsets to DND and Coast Guard procurements of $20M (CAD, or about $15M USD) or greater.
All Canadian defence procurement falls under the auspices of the Treasury Board of Canada, which establishes national procurement and contracting standards and regulations on behalf of the Government of Canada.
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