Headquarters Space and Missile Systems Center (AFMC)

Los Angeles Air Force Base, California 90009-2960

Acquisition Management


This regulation requires that changes to manufacturing processes and repair procedures after product qualification be formally validated, documented and disclosed for all Space and Missiles Center (SMC) programs utilizing liquid and/or solid propulsion systems. The regulation applies to revised manufacturing materials and processes, new hardware repair processes, and changes to previously validated hardware repair processes at all levels of procurement. It is the responsibility of the Program Director and Program Manager in the SMC Systems Program Office (SPO) to ensure that all changes are thoroughly disclosed and technically reviewed for possible impact on product reliability and that the submitting contractor be formally informed of the SPO position regarding the changes.

1. Policy All SMC Program Offices that utilize liquid and/or solid propulsion systems shall require that changes to manufacturing processes and repair procedures after product qualification be formally validated, documented and disclosed.

2. Background

a. Changes to manufacturing processes and previously validated hardware repair procedures after product qualification of propulsion systems are sometimes accomplished without any documented technical assessment of impact on propulsion system reliability. This type of hardware production approach has occasionally resulted in critical and costly mission failures. Formal reporting procedures are required to ensure that the changes associated with the hardware manufacture and repair processes are based on sound technical evaluation, and will not compromise the product reliability.

b. This regulation refers to the changes made after product qualification, which may include 1) revisions to manufacturing and repair process documents (including test procedures); 2) introduction of a new repair procedure; 3) changes in associated equipment/tooling which may impact product reliability; and 4) changes associated with materials and their suppliers. In other words, the product itself is directly or indirectly altered in some manner. It does not apply to cosmetic changes in documentation, such as the clarification of a process step.

c. This regulation is not intended to justify the implementation of process changes and repair procedures as a standard business practice. The frequency and extent of such changes should be continuously monitored and every effort made to minimize the need for these actions.

d. For the purposes of this regulation, propulsion systems encompass solid rocket motors, liquid rocket engines, and satellite propulsion thrusters. Related systems, such as propellant tanks, tank feed systems, and thrust vector control systems, are not considered part of the propulsion system.

e. Process discrepancies such as out-of-sequence processing and processing anomalies by themselves are not addressed herein. These discrepancies are expected to be covered as part of the contract quality control program and its attendant material review board function.

3. Responsibilities and Procedures

a. The SPO shall invoke the requirement of formal reporting of all changes defined in Paragraph 2.b. pertaining to all contracts involving propulsion systems. The requirement shall also apply to all component subcontractors and associated vendors.

b. The SPO shall require that the propulsion systems contractor validate any change, as defined in Paragraph 2.b., made or proposed after product qualification and shall document the results. The documentation shall include: a description of the process used in manufacturing the initial qualification article(s); a detailed description and justification of each change; its traceability to, and impact on, product qualification and propulsion system reliability; its validation methodology and supporting test data and analysis; and documented approval of the change by all applicable technical disciplines. In addition, any revised or new repair procedure shall be a formal manufacturing document which shall include identification of critical design and process control parameters, identification and recording of critical data, clearly defined repair acceptance or rejection criteria, and repair operator certification. The complete documentation package, including manufacturing and inspection records, shall be submitted to the SPO within 30 days of change implementation.

c. The SPO shall, upon receipt of process change and/or hardware repair documentation, obtain a thorough review and documented disposition comments by qualified personnel in all applicable technical disciplines. The SPO shall inform the submitting contractor, within 45 days of documentation package receipt, of the change acceptability.

d. The documentation package, including SPO review comments / directions, shall be made a part of the pedigree records of all components affected by the change. The contractor does not have to resubmit documentation when a specific change is of equal or less criticality and extent to a similar change using identical processes previously accepted by the SPO. However, a copy of the documentation package, including justification for not requiring resubmittal, shall be part of the pedigree record.

e. Instructions for applying and executing this regulation are provided by SMC Regulation 540-15 (Systems Engineering Policy). Any program director who does not apply and execute this regulation, as required by SMCR 540-15, shall immediately request a waiver from the Commander.