Standard: NATO - AAP-20


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In order to reach their operational goals, NATO/Nations/Agencies develop strategic objectives that are realized by single or multiple capabilities. Capabilities are realized by single or multiple programmes, and programmes are realized by single or multiple projects. A programme is undertaken to develop a system, product, or a service that feeds into this framework. Ongoing organisational activities/processes are aligned to support the needs of the programme.

As described in the NATO Policy for Systems Life Cycle Management (SLCM), the aim of SLCM is to optimise defence capabilities over the life cycle of the system by taking into account performance, cost, schedule, quality, operational environments, integrated logistic support, and obsolescence. It facilitates interoperability, communication, collaboration, and cooperation, while minimising total life cycle cost. Annex 1 shows the big picture of the Life Cycle Framework.

AAP-20 is a generic guidance document which provides the standardized and tailorable approach for managing programmes that includes materiel solutions and should be used in conjunction with AAP-48 and the SLCM document Library. AAP-48 defines the NATO System Life Cycle Management processes. The SLCM document library contains procedures, templates, handbooks, and other documents.


AAP-20 is a generic guidance document that provides the standardized and tailorable approach for managing programmes by NATO, Agencies, Groups of Nations and Nation(s). It delivers a structured approach to describe the stages and to aid decision-making at these decision points for all management levels involved in cooperative programmes.

This document focuses on the formulation of requirements based on a capability gap and the management of a programme throughout the life cycle, including accelerated fielding (rapid acquisition) and technology insertion. It provides potential pitfalls, risks, and opportunities for managing a programme based on the best practices of NATO Nations and helps clarify the roles of the National and NATO Authorities and the International Staff in the decision process.

AAP-20 expects close cooperation between operational commands, military planners, and programme managers. Stakeholder requirements will be provided by military planners to programme managers based on capability gaps and strategic objectives.


Nations are encouraged to use this publication as a guide and therefore, AAP-20 intends to support and complement national acquisition policies, not replace them. The use of AAP- 20 in NATO, Multinational and National Programmes as an enabling framework will lead to a more effective and efficient provision of capabilities.

With the necessity to describe interfaces and relationships to other processes and domains, it was necessary to use the NATO processes and domains to show the dependencies. Nations, Agencies, and other Users of this guideline should adjust these interfaces to their appropriate processes and domains.

Organization: North Atlantic Treaty Organization
Document Number: aap-20
Publish Date: 2015-10-16
Page Count: 78
Available Languages: EN
DOD Adopted: NO
ANSI Approved: NO
Most Recent Revision: YES
Current Version: YES
Status: Active

Document History

Document # Change Type Update Date Revision Status
AAP-20 Change Type: STCH Update Date: 2010-02-04 Status: INAC
AAP-20 Change Type: STCH Update Date: 2010-02-04 Status: INAC
AAP-20 Change Type: Update Date: 2010-02-04 Status: INAC
AAP-20 Change Type: Update Date: 1989-02-01 Status: INAC

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