We introduce a quantitative model to support the decision on the reliability level of a critical component during its design. We consider an OEM who is responsible for the availability of its systems in the field through service contracts. Upon a failure of a critical part in a system during the exploitation phase, the failed part is replaced by a ready-for-use part from a spare parts inventory. In an out-of-stock situation, a costly emergency procedure is applied. The reliability levels and spare parts inventory levels of the critical components are the two main factors that determine the downtime and corresponding costs of the systems. These two levels are decision variables in our model. We formulate the portions of Life Cycle Costs (LCC) which are affected by a component's reliability and its spare parts inventory level. These costs consist of design costs, production costs, and maintenance and downtime costs in the exploitation phase. We conduct exact analysis and provide an efficient optimization algorithm. We provide managerial insights through a numerical experiment which is based on real-life data.