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Initial operating capability or Initial operational capability (IOC) is the state achieved when a capability is available in its minimum usefully deployable form. The term is often used in government or military procurement.[1] The United States Department of Defense chooses to use the term Initial Operational Capability (versus initial "operating" capability) when referring to IOC.[2] For a U.S. Department of Defense military acquisition, IOC includes operating the training and maintaining parts of the overall system per DOTMLPF, and is defined[3] as 'In general, attained when some units and/or organizations in the force structure scheduled to receive a system have received it and have the ability to employ and maintain it. The specifics for any particular system IOC are defined in that system’s Capability Development Document (CDD) and Capability Production Document (CPD).'

The date at which IOC is achieved often defines the in-service date (ISD) for an associated system. Declaration of an initial operating capability may imply that the capability will be developed in the future, for example by modifications or adjustments to improve the system's performance, deployment of greater numbers of systems (perhaps of different types), or testing and training that permit wider application of the capability.[4] Once the capability is fully developed, Full Operational Capability may be declared.[5]

For example, the capability may be fielded to a limited number of users with plans to roll out to all users incrementally over a period (possibly incorporating changes along the way). The point at which the first users begin using the capability is IOC, with FOC achieved when all intended users (by agreement between the developer and the user) have the capability. This does not preclude additional users from obtaining the capability after FOC.


  1. "AOF Glossary". UK Ministry of Defence. Retrieved 2008-01-27. 
  2. Defense Acquisition University 2009-07-22.
  3. "Glossary of Defense Acquisition Acronyms & Terms, 14th ed.". Defense Acquisition University. July 2012. Retrieved 2013-05-03. 
  4. Defense Acquisition University Ask a Professor 1998-05-08
  5. Defense Acquisition University Ask a Professor 1999-03-01

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