Last fall Stimson published a report on defense procurement, and it triggered some debate about what 'modernization' means. No official definition existed to settle the definition, and instead people tended to use 'modernization' to mean the new capabilities they wanted rather than as a comparison to an objective standard. This allowed a lot of squishiness about what was actually being debated. In a new report, GAO clearly ran across the same problem and has provided a great service by offering a definition:
According to the service officials we spoke with, modernization is generally a process whereby upgrades and modifications are made in response to new requirements and to capitalize on advances in technology to increase an aircraft’s capabilities over time.
Its still pretty squishy: requirements can be notoriously vague and what is an 'advance in technology' can probably always be debated. Nevertheless, its a lot more solid than we've had before.