This paper presents arguments for why defense programs creating physical systems should clearly separate three developmental phases from each other: research, development and design. Research is to be performed first by small teams of scientists addressing the "unknown unknowns" and maturing fundamental science from TRL of 1 to about 3. Next, development of physical modules is to be performed by small and highly specialized engineers. Finally, the system-level design should focus on efficient trading off the module locations, sizes and shapes versus system performance, mass, power requirements, etc. The design with all modules mature and available is equivalent to a car design: to be performed by competent engineers but quite well established. A small cohesive and co-located Program Management team with excellent Systems Engineers and Architects, led by a permanent Program Manager/Chief Engineer should manage all program phases, assuring smooth transitions between the expert teams and phases. The small weight penalty which may result from the above approach is compensated by orders of magnitude larger savings due to shorter program schedule and optimized engineering effort. Examples are cited.
"Improving Affordability: Separating Research from Development and from Design in Complex Programs", B.W. Oppenheim, CrossTalk Defense Journal, July/August 2013, Vol. 26 No. 4.