A product goes through several phases during its life cycle. The number, title, and definitions of the phases vary slightly between the military and commercial communities, and even among commercial companies, but are similar. The life cycle acquisition phases defined by DoD Regulation 5000.2-R are:
- Phase 0 - Concept Exploration
- Phase I - Program Definition and Risk Reduction
- Phase II - Engineering and Manufacturing Development (EMD)
- Phase III - Production, Fielding/Deployment, and Operational Support
DoD 5000.2-R does recognize that it is necessary to demilitarize and dispose of a product1 at the end of its useful life. Although not designated as an acquisition phase, the period of time over which demilitarization and disposal occurs could be considered the Phase-out and Retirement phase of a product's life cycle.
Each phase has specific objectives and the activities conducted during the phase must support these objectives. Milestone decision points mark the beginning and end of the acquisition phases. The milestone decision points are:
- Milestone 0 - Approval to Conduct Concept Studies (beginning of phase 0)
- Milestone I - Approval to Begin a New Acquisition Program (end of Phase 0, beginning of Phase I)
- Milestone II - Approval to Enter EMD (end of Phase I, beginning of Phase II)
- Milestone III - Production or Deployment Approval (end of Phase II, beginning of Phase III)
For some products, a phase may be "abbreviated" or even "skipped." For example, the R&D phase for a new product that is simply an updated or moderately improved version of an older, mature product will likely be very short, concentrating only on the differences between the two.
Figure E-1 shows the life cycle phases, milestone decision points, the objectives of each phase, and a summary of the activities associated with each phase.
The product will be kept in service, sometimes beyond the original intended service life through life extension efforts. Eventually, it will be necessary to retire and dispose of the product. Removal of a product from service can entail the disposal of toxic materials, recovery of precious metals, and recycling.
1DoD Directive 5000.1 and DoD Regulation 5000.2-R use the term "system", not product. Recall, however, that within this handbook, the general term "product" will be used to mean system, equipment, or item. It could be a vehicle, a transmission, or an engine, whatever is being developed under the acquisition program.