Lieutenant General Brett M. Dula
Air Combat Command
Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, thank you for this opportunity
to discuss the reconnaissance and surveillance mission in general, and
unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in particular. Air Combat Command (ACC)
is keenly aware of how vitally important the reconnaissance and surveillance
mission is to the warfighter, and we look forward to discussing both our
current capability and future vision in this area.
Air Combat Command
ACC is responsible for training, organizing, and equipping forces to
conduct combat and other operations in three broad mission areas - nuclear,
air defense, and theater combat. First, ACC provides battle management
and nuclear forces to U.S. Strategic Command. We are responsible for one
leg of our nation's nuclear triad -- our nuclear-equipped bomber force.
Second, ACC, in conjunction with the Air National Guard, provides air defense
forces to protect the sovereignty of North American airspace. And third,
ACC provides combat ready forces to the combatant Commander in Chiefs (CINCs)
for contingency operations. We are a command of some 103,000 of this country's
finest men and women, both uniformed and civilian. We operate nearly 1056
active duty aircraft, fly 35,800 hours each month, and maintain 16 major
installations in the United States, plus Howard AFB in Panama and Lajes
Field in the Azores. The strength of our Air Force rests on the exceptional
quality of our airmen. For many years these dedicated men and women have
maintained continuous deployments to Japan, Korea, the United Kingdom,
Iceland and Greece. Since the Gulf War we have added large commitments
in Southwest Asia and Turkey, as well as recurring deployments to Italy
and France in support of United Nations and NATO operations in the former
ACC operates a number of systems to provide our warfighters with a robust
C4ISR (command, control, communications, and computers, intelligence, surveillance,
and reconnaissance) capability. The following combat coded aircraft are
dedicated to C4ISR: 20 Airborne Warning and Control Aircraft (AWACS), 2
(total programmed acquisition is 19 combat coded and 1 test aircraft) Joint
Surveillance Targeting and Attack Radar Systems (J-STARS), 3 E-4s, 7 EC-135s,
16 EC-130s, 14 RC-135s, 27 U-2s, 2 SR-71s and 1 Predator UAV system (10
combat coded systems programmed for acquisition). We are committed to providing
the regional CINCs with the C4ISR assets necessary to meet mission requirements,
and believe UAVs will continue to play an increasing role in meeting requirements.
The focus of this testimony is on UAVs. I will discuss our current efforts
and future vision for UAVs in two areas; equipment and organization/training.
Further, I will discuss several issues pertaining to UAV operations. ACC
is excited about the UAV potential and fully committed to ensuring Predator
makes the transition from an advanced concept technology demonstration
(ACTD) to an operational system. We look forward to exploring the intelligence,
surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities of DarkStar and Global
Hawk, and into the next century - additional tasks like communications
relay and SEAD (suppression of enemy air defense). Obviously, bringing
any new system on line offers many challenges, and in this testimony I'll
address some of our challenges with UAVs. But before discussing UAVs in
detail I would like to describe our current airpower mission and examine
our vision of the current and future reconnaissance and surveillance requirements
of the warfighter.
Military Requirements in Surveillance and Reconnaissance
Since the fall of the Berlin Wall, our Air Force has changed dramatically.
We reduced our force structure by approximately forty percent, and our
overseas presence substantially. We have embraced an expeditionary strategy
that requires us to be able to rapidly and decisively project power from
the U.S. in order to safeguard our national interests. Today, due to our
steady modernization efforts, we are better able to project military power
and are more capable than we were at the time of Desert Storm. During Desert
Storm, for example, nine percent of our weapons were precision guided munitions
(PGMs). During Deliberate Force in September of 1995, seventy-two percent
of the U.S. weapons employed were PGMs.
While advances in precision have made our aircraft more effective, it
has also increased the need for accurate and timely information. Thus,
during this same period, information dominance has emerged as an
essential element of our warfighting strategy. In Joint Vision 2010,
the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff states information dominance
is the critical enabler for the operational concepts of dominant maneuver,
precision engagement, focused logistics and full-dimensional protection.
Clearly, information dominance has become critical to the warfighter, but
I would be remiss if I failed to emphasize that the operational concepts
in Joint Vision 2010 depend on our ability to establish air and
space dominance. Air and space superiority is a fundamental requirement
for all operational concepts in Joint Vision 2010 and is a prerequisite
to achieving full spectrum dominance. It diminishes the risks to all
friendly military forces and shapes the battlefield so we can establish
dominant maneuver. While control of the air is a component of Joint
Vision 2010, it must be highlighted as the key pre-condition for success
on any future battlefield. We have spent billions in developing information
systems that are the envy of the world, and we have developed an impressive
long range precision capability; however, these systems will be ineffective
without control of the "high ground." We need to create the environment
where high value reconnaissance assets such as AWACs and J-STARS can operate
unhindered, and our attack aircraft can operate freely above the battlespace.
Furthermore, air dominance will leverage all of our joint forces and allow
for a more effective joint campaign. Thus, the warfighter's first requirement
is ensuring he has the tools necessary to establish air dominance.
With that requirement stated, it is undeniable that information superiority
confers great advantage on the side that possesses the capability to collect,
process, analyze, and disseminate information, while denying an adversary
the ability to do the same. Indeed, the high operations tempo experienced
by our C4ISR airmen is in part driven by an increased demand for information
superiority. Regardless of the type of conflict, whether conventional war
or operations other than war, the warfighter needs accurate information
in order to employ our precision weapons. For example, the battle of Al-Khafji
took place from 29-31 January 1991. Iraqi armored units launched several
attacks into Saudi Arabia. J-STARS, although not yet operational, had been
rushed into the theater with contractors on board just prior to the war.
It detected the armored movement, and directed aircraft to the battle.
The result was a major victory for the coalition. J-STARS also played a
role in enforcing the Dayton peace accords. For instance, it was J-STARS
all weather, day and night capability that detected a Bosnian Serb armored
column attempting to cross a "zone of separation" in clear violation
of the Dayton peace accords, allowing NATO to intercept, stop, and document
the violation. These systems allowed Admiral Smith, the NATO Commander,
to tell the Bosnian Serbs that "there isn't anything you can do without
our knowing." During Deliberate Force in Bosnia, Predator provided
timely battle damage assessment (BDA) of military targets, and after Dayton,
helped to enforce the peace accords by monitoring checkpoints and mass
grave sites. It is clear that across the spectrum of conflict, both manned
and unmanned reconnaissance and surveillance aircraft will be in great
demand and contribute mightily to the attainment of our military and political
objectives. The ISR requirements UAVs will meet include: indications and
warning, identification of orders of battle, threat assessments, monitoring
of enemy command, control, communication, and intelligence activity, identification
of enemy centers of gravity, identification of targets, and BDA. This information
must be timely, responsive, and of sufficient quality to support commanders.
Further, the systems must be interoperable and flexible in order to respond
to rapidly changing combat conditions. While no one type of reconnaissance
asset can accomplish all required tasking, UAVs will undoubtedly play a
role in our future force structure. I predict they will increase in both
capability and value as we develop UAV technology and doctrine. The Air
Force is only at the early stages of our UAV development. We must "walk
before we run" and need to ensure the systems we procure in this fiscally
constrained environment are both combat effective and cost effective. We
want to provide the best environment possible to develop the UAV programs,
while maintaining assured capability for current needs. We fully intend
to continue to develop and improve our information gathering, processing
and distribution systems to ensure we continue to provide a combat advantage
to the Joint Warfighter.
Equipping the Force to Meet Requirements
UAVs will act in concert with other space, airborne, maritime, and ground
systems. Once UAV capability and cost effectiveness are proven, UAVs may
begin to replace manned systems and augment space systems. In the near
term, we see UAVs serving in the ISR role. As the technology, organization
and doctrine evolves, we see UAVs taking on other tasks, such as a communications
relay and SEAD. Long term, we intend to exploit UAVs for additional missions
including precision engagement.
The Air Force crossed an historic threshold in September of 1996 when
we assumed operational control of the Predator UAV. Predator, also known
as the medium altitude endurance (MAE) or Tier II UAV completed its ACTD
program in June 1996. A block approach is currently planned for the program's
continuing upgrades. The system provides long-range, long-dwell, near-real-time
imagery intelligence to satisfy reconnaissance, surveillance and target
acquisition mission requirements. The air vehicle carries both electro-optical
(EO), infrared (IR), and synthetic aperture radar (SAR) sensors which,
with Ku-band as well as UHF-band satellite communication links enable the
system to acquire and pass imagery to ground stations for adverse weather,
beyond-line-of-sight use by commanders. A Predator system includes four
air vehicles, a ground control station, a Trojan Spirit II (satellite communications
equipment), and 55 personnel. The air vehicle typically operates within
a 200 NM radius, at an altitude of 15,000 feet, has an endurance in excess
of 20 hours, and cruises at 65-70 Kts. This system moved from an ACTD directly
into operations. Moving directly from an ACTD without the benefit of a
short engineering, manufacturing , and development (EMD) phase has led
to challenges in the areas of support, maintenance, reliability, training,
and personnel. It is ACC's opinion that the ACTD process should include
a limited EMD phase to ensure a smooth transition from acquisition to operations.
Despite growing pains, Predator has been a workhorse over Bosnia and has
proved its worth to the warfighter.
High Altitude Endurance Program
The High Altitude Endurance (HAE) UAV program is currently an ACTD aimed
at developing and demonstrating long dwell, high altitude reconnaissance.
The HAE UAV has been designated an ACTD by the Deputy Under Secretary of
Defense for Advanced Technology (DUSD/AT). The current HAE development
configuration consists of a common ground segment and two complementary
air vehicles: the Low Observable (LO) HAE named "DarkStar," and
a conventional design HAE named "Global Hawk." CINC U.S. Atlantic
Command (USACOM) has been designated the sponsoring CINC and will direct
ACTD user involvement.
Throughout the ACTD, DUSD (AT) will provide oversight and guidance for
the program. DARPA is responsible for managing the program throughout the
development phase. Management will transition to Air Force Aeronautical
Systems Center (ASC), Wright Patterson AFB, for the demonstration phase.
At the conclusion of the demonstration phase, USACOM will coordinate system
evaluation and provide an assessment of military utility. This assessment
will be based on users' inputs and objective analysis of performance during
the operational demonstrations and exercises. ACC is working in close partnership
with USACOM, AFMC/ASC, DARPA, and DARO for the development and demonstration
of the HAE UAV. At the conclusion of the ACTD, ACC takes responsibility
for the residual ACTD assets and applicable post-ACTD HAE development.
The HAE system includes two types of performance-optimized air vehicles,
each capable of being controlled by a common ground segment. Global Hawk
is optimized for supporting low-to-moderate threat, long endurance surveillance
missions in which range, endurance, and time on station are paramount.
DarkStar, a low observable air vehicle, is optimized for moderate endurance,
and high-threat reconnaissance missions in which assured coverage is more
important than range and endurance.
Both air vehicles are capable of fully autonomous operations once programmed
by the common ground segment, including fully automatic taxi, take-off,
flight, and recovery. Aircraft system, sensor, and navigational status
is provided continuously to the ground operators through health and status
downlink for mission monitoring. Additionally, the navigation and sensor
plans for both air vehicles can be dynamically updated in flight through
redundant data links. The program is currently in the development phase
of the ACTD, where the objective is to complete the design and fabrication
of the initial test vehicles with payloads and supporting ground segments,
and successfully complete initial flight and performance testing. The initial
Global Hawk rollout ceremony occurred 20 February 1997, with the first
flight scheduled for October 1997. The DarkStar program is back in full
swing following the conclusion of the safety investigation for the crash
of air vehicle one on its second flight, with the resumption of flight
activities scheduled for the late fall 1997 timeframe. The final phase
of the ACTD is scheduled for October 1998 to September 2000 and is designed
to assess the operational effectiveness and military utility of the system.
The anticipated residual ACTD capability includes up to eight Global Hawk
air vehicles, five DarkStar air vehicles, and three common ground segments.
UAV Organization and Training
ACC has taken a proactive approach in organizing our UAV assets into
our current force structure. ACC "stood up" the 11th Reconnaissance
Squadron at Indian Springs Auxiliary Field in Nevada in July of 1995. This
squadron will lead the way in developing the operational concepts and tactics
to ensure the UAV meets the needs of the warfighter. Currently, we are
planning to procure a total of twelve Predator systems. Of these twelve
systems, we intend to maintain ten systems as combat coded, which would
assign five systems to each Major Regional Conflict (MRC). The remaining
two systems would support training, development testing and operational
test and evaluation.
The 11th Reconnaissance Squadron is in the process of developing the
operations tactics, techniques and procedures to operate the Predator as
a combat aircraft. One disadvantage of the ACTD process is that the focus
is on technical capability; however, the logistical aspects of the program
are immature when the program is released to operators, thus the need for
an EMD phase. An additional challenge facing Predator is poor weather operations.
Icing is a major problem with the air vehicle. Predator flies at altitudes
where icing is prevalent, and although the sensors possess an all weather
capability, we are exploring improvements to make the air vehicle more
all weather capable. We continue to develop the Predator for operating
in air space shared with manned aircraft. For example, we are incorporating
IFF capability, and pursuing UHF and VHF radio capability to enable the
Predator operator to talk to air traffic controllers.
One step taken to ensure these operational challenges are overcome is
the establishment of the UAV Battle Lab. The purpose of the Air Force UAV
Battle Lab is to establish a capability to evaluate technical and operational
merit of innovative UAV technology and concepts of operations and their
contribution to dominance in air and space. The UAV Battle Lab, located
at Eglin Air Force Base, will be the Air Force focal point to explore initiatives
that can rapidly lead to innovation: introduction of new resources and
architecture; improvements to doctrine, tactics and training; and more
effective execution of battle management and combat operations. Its projects
will arise from several sources both internal to the lab and externally
such as unsolicited contractor proposals and surveys of the R&D community.
Once a project is determined to be technically feasible and of reasonable
cost, it can be explored and evaluated for its contribution to the warfighter,
effectiveness, and cost in light of other systems that may provide duplicative
capability. Currently, the lab has seven personnel assigned and in place.
The Battle Lab stood up this month with initial operational capability
planned by July 97 and full manning by January 98.
Predator served as the first UAV ACTD, and as such we have learned many
lessons on bringing a system to fruition from an advanced concept. ACTD
program advantages include the opportunity to provide advanced technology
to the warfighter in a shorter timeframe than a traditional acquisition
process. Additionally, ACTDs are designed to provide the user with a residual
capability. While it is unlikely the desired production version of a UAV
would be identical to the ACTD, its design will incorporate the lessons
learned from the ACTD. The Predator ACTD identified some disadvantages
of the ACTD process. The transition from an ACTD to an operational program
is too abrupt with many important aspects of the program left to the service
to perform. Not the least of these is the need to reprogram previously
committed funds from other requirements to support continued production.
Our support for UAVs is demonstrated by the reprogramming of $350M over
the FYDP from a myriad of programs to support Predator operations and maintenance,
personnel, and military construction from an already severely constrained
budget. Rather than concentrating on combat operations, they are forced
to develop the support, logistical tail, and training programs in a short
amount of time. For example, Predator was pressed into service before the
support, logistics, and training programs were developed. A short EMD phase
is vital as a bridge between ACTD and combat operations. It would serve
to improve the transition and would result in an improved product for the
Supporting the warfighter
Predator operations in Bosnia must be judged a success. While weather
limitations and aircraft mishaps point to room for improvement, the outstanding
imagery products provided by Predator, and the fact that a pilot's life
was not at risk while obtaining intelligence, all point to the continued
use of Predator as a combat asset. With the planned force structure consisting
of five combat systems per MRC, the 11th Reconnaissance Squadron will be
capable of providing five air vehicles airborne at any one time during
24 hour operations. Clearly, Predator's impressive capability will cause
demand to quickly exceed supply. The 11th Reconnaissance Squadron's primary
effort must be to support the theater commander, and then component commanders.
Predator's capability will always be employed in accordance with the CINC
directed apportionment and air component daily allocation decision as reflected
in the air tasking order.
The characteristics of airpower; flexibility, precision, speed and range,
allow airmen to place combat power over any part of the battlespace. This
ubiquity of airpower is its greatest asset, and ideally, an airman can
alter his target at any time and mass combat power over the decisive point.
While Predator shares some of these traits, it only travels at 65 Kts,
which makes dynamic retasking problematic. While the JFACC (Joint Air Forces
Component Commander) will certainly attempt to service the highest priority
targets, in accordance with the theater collection management plan, and
retask the Predator in flight, it is simply too slow to serve solely in
that role. The process of retasking can be made more efficient, but there
is no improvement for the lack of speed possessed by Predator.
Future Predator Enhancements
Enhancements to improve Predator UAV combat capability include improved
satellite communication, improved sensors, and improved geolocation capability.
This integrates Predator with our future vision of "sensor to shooter"
capability, and real time intelligence in the cockpit. It is critical that
information provided be as precise as the weapons the attack aircraft employs.
Finally, UAVs that possess all weather sensors, and support all weather
aircraft, must have an all weather capability. This is a fundamental requirement
as we have developed the capability of denying the enemy the sanctuary
of night and inclement weather.
The nature of warfare is continually evolving. The increasing
use of long range precision fire capability has led to a need for greater
dispersal on the modern battlefield. Both of these developments dictate
an increased need for information, and UAVs have the potential to play
an increasing role in providing that capability. The operational capabilities
embodied in the Predator system are a significant first step in providing
the warfighter with the continuous real-time reconnaissance, surveillance
and target acquisition capability he will need on future battlefields.
ACC is committed to leading the way through our ACC UAV Divisions, operational
reconnaissance units, and the UAV Battle Lab. In the near term, we are
focusing on providing the warfighter with reconnaissance, surveillance
and targeting acquisition capability. In parallel, we will explore exploiting
UAVs as communications relays and for SEAD, and we look forward to the
long term goal of exploiting UAVs for additional missions. In closing,
military weapons are much more than the technological capability of the
system. Its military potential is determined by the synergistic effect
of its technology, organization and doctrine. In conjunction with Joint
Vision 2010, we are continuing to study how UAVs can support joint
warfighting. As UAVs prove their military utility and affordability, they
will increasingly become an integral part of our nation's force. Thank
you Mr. Chairman for the opportunity to present this statement. I'll be
happy to answer your questions