1997 Congressional Hearings
Intelligence and Security






Mr Chairman and members of the committee, on behalf of the Commandant of the Marine Corps and the Marines you have so strongly supported, I want thank you for this opportunity to discuss the Marine Corps Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) requirements.

I would like to begin by providing a brief overview of the Marine Corps Combat Development Process which is the systematic process we use to identify, validate, and maintain the warfighting capabilities that will carry the Marine Corps into the 21st Century. Next, I will provide a brief history of Marine Corps involvement in early UAV efforts from 1954 to the fielding of the Pioneer system, the development of our Short Range and Close Range UAV requirement documents, and the recent Marine Corps participation in the Hunter and EXDRONE programs. Finally, I will close with a summary of our current UAV requirements and on-going efforts to refine them through experimentation such as the recently completed Advanced Warfighting Experiment "Hunter Warrior."

Combat Development Process

The Marine Corps Combat Development Process allows us to build and sustain our warfighting abilities. Concepts provide the foundation for the identification of capability deficiencies which lead to requirements. As our touchstone for determining future warfighting requirements, concepts generate analysis in five functional areas: Doctrine, organization, training and education, equipment, and facilities and support. The analysis of these functional areas are not predisposed toward an equipment solution. On the contrary, it balances the concept across the aforementioned five functional areas, looking first for a non-equipment solution. When equipment is required, our process provides the mechanism to ensure that the equipment solution is tied to the operational concept and that we are equipping our Marines vice manning our equipment.

Operational Maneuver from the Sea

As we approach the 21st Century, U. S. naval forces are transitioning from a blue water operational focus to the littorals. The Naval White Papers ...From the Sea and Forward...From the Sea provide direction to the Navy and Marine Corps for this shift. The Marine Corps capstone operational concept for operations in the littorals is Operational Maneuver From the Sea. From a Marine Corps perspective, these documents have revalidated our ties to the Navy. In the future, as in the past, we will deploy as part of Naval Task Forces for forward presence, deterrence and crisis resolution and, when necessary, to fight and win. Our doctrine, organization, training and education, equipment, and facilities and support must support our ability to rapidly embark aboard Navy ships, and once deployed, we must be capable of operating for extended periods from the sea base. This is a familiar mission for Marines; we have been operating from Navy ships since our inception. What is new is the increased distances associated with Operational Maneuver From The Sea. From ships over the horizon, we must support our forces a they maneuver directly to objectives lying far inland. Equipment fielded to support our forces must be sufficiently robust to accommodate these increased operational distances.

Operational Maneuver From the Sea is fully compatible with the four broad operational concepts laid out by the Chairman in the Joint Vision 2010. It provides "dominant maneuver" from the sea, "precision engagement" with responsive naval aviation support and naval surface fires, "focused logistics" from sea-based platforms, and enhanced "force projection" through a sea-based, over the horizon posture, allowing for minimal exposure ashore. In Joint Vision 2010, the critical aspect of these four elements is identified as "information superiority." Our requirements describe a UAV that will improve the situational awareness and information superiority of our force at the tactical and operational level of war.

Historical Perspective 1955 through 1988

The Marine Corps has a long history of involvement with UAV programs. Early involvement in experimental efforts began in 1954 with the Remotely Piloted Helicopter Program, a five year study and prototype demonstration established to determine the feasibility of using unmanned helicopters to meet shortfalls in manned helicopter inventories. In 1959, the study concluded that unmanned helicopters were more expensive, less reliable, and offered no advantage to manned helicopters and the program ended.

The Bikini program, a seven-year research and development effort which began in 1959, examined methods for providing organic, near real-time reconnaissance support for the battalion commander. The system consisted of two-man drone teams with a jeep-mounted launcher, and an airborne drone with a 70 mm camera. The technology available at the time was inadequate, thus the system was not fielded. However, the seven year effort generated a concept of employment that was similar to the one we published for the Close Range UAV nearly 26 years later.

Marine Corps and Navy interest in UAVs was rejuvenated in 1983-1984, following the loss of Naval aircraft to anti-aircraft weapons during Peacekeeping Operations in Beirut, Lebanon. With the support of the Secretary of the Navy, the Marine Corps procured a Mastiff UAV system from Israel to be used for rapid development of a concept of employment. During August 1984, we fielded the Mastiff system to the 2d Marine Division as a concept developer where it remained until replaced by the Pioneer system in 1987.

Pioneer Unmanned Aerial Vehicle

Pioneer was our first true operational system. Because it was an interim system, no funds were provided to accommodate reliability, obsolescence, or attrition when production was stopped in 1988. Pioneer has successfully supported Operation Desert Storm in Saudi Arabia, Operation Joint Endeavor in Bosnia, and Joint Task Force Six Counter-drug Operations in the Gulf of Mexico.

The Pioneer system remains the UAV workhorse for naval forces worldwide.

Continued funding for Pioneer sustainment and required engineering changes is essential to maintain our existing UAV capability until we can identify and field a suitable replacement. Planned initiatives include a multi-sensor electro-optics/infrared payload, a multi-purpose integrated avionics group for improved communication and navigation performance, engine performance and reliability upgrades, the Common Automatic Recovery System, and the procurement of attrition aircraft.

In 1988, Congressional language directed the Secretary of Defense to cancel on-going service efforts for the Pioneer and the U. S. Army Aquila programs. OSD was directed to establish a single program office for control and management of UAV programs and to quickly field a service-coordinated UAV system. Shortly following the establishment of the Joint Program Office, the U. S. Army published a Joint Mission Need Statement, endorsed by the Marine Corps, validating the requirement for a Short Range UAV. This requirement described a system with an operating radius of 200 kilometers and designed for use by service commanders at the Division and higher level. The requirement was subsequently published in a Joint Operational Requirements Document (JORD) signed in February 1993. This JORD was modified and republished in March 1995 to include a requirement for shipboard compatibility.

The Hunter UAV system was selected as the candidate system to satisfy the Short Range requirement. Throughout its development, the Hunter system experienced a series of problems that ultimately caused the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) to cancel the program in October 1995. Specific problems cited included program management, reliability as a result of a series of crashes, and a large logistical footprint. While the Marine Corps stated an early interest in the Hunter program, system development and testing results produced a product that clearly failed to satisfy our requirement for a shipboard compatible, readily deployable system.

Although the Hunter program was canceled in the 1995, the Marine Corps basic requirement described in the Short Range UAV JORD remains valid and unfilled.

Close Range Unmanned Aerial Vehicle

In 1991, the Marine Corps validated the Close Range UAV Initial Statement of Requirement (ISOR). This ISOR specified a requirement for a system with an operating radius of 50 kilometers able to be used by commanders at the battalion and lower levels. In 1992, the EXDRONE , a carry over from the Expendable Drone Communications Jammer (EXDRONE) program, was modified and fielded as a concept demonstrator. The EXDRONE system lacks several desired performance characteristics and was never intended to be fielded to our operating forces. Nevertheless, the system was a good concept demonstrator and performed well in its intended role. It was returned to storage in 1995 following the completion of the Close Range Cost and Operational Effectiveness Analysis.

Continuing as a concept demonstrator, the EXDRONE was acquired and modified by the Commandant's Warfighting Lab to support experimentation during Limited Objective and Advanced Warfighting Experiments. Recently the modified EXDRONE was successfully employed as a surrogate Tactical Unmanned Aerial Vehicle in the Hunter Warrior Advanced Warfighting Experiment. The EXDRONE will continue to be used in follow-on experiments both as a concept demonstrator and as a surrogate for emerging systems.

The EXDRONE, as currently modified, does not satisfy the Marine Corps requirement. Its lack of shipboard compatibility and combat radius fall far short of Short Range requirements. Further, its 2.2 hour endurance, 20-pound payload, lack of heavy fuel engine, and Tactical Control System incompatibility do not support either the Short Range or Close Range UAV requirement.

Tactical Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (TUAV) Advanced Concept Technology Demonstrator

In December 1995, the Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps signed Joint Requirements Oversight Council (JROC) Memorandum 150-95 committing the Marine Corps to the TUAV Advanced Concept Technology Demonstration (ACTD). This ACTD is currently ongoing and will asses the utility of a single low cost UAV to satisfy joint Close Range and Short Range requirements. The JROC Memorandum outlines system constraints and performance goals that indirectly address our requirements for Operational Maneuver From the Sea. Our most compelling requirement is the capability to launch and recover UAVs from all air capable ships including those having only a single helicopter platform as well as the larger carrier class ships. The TUAV must be fully compatible with high tempo flight deck operations, provide a reconnaissance capability from ships operating from over the horizon, and deliver sufficient range and endurance to support ship to objective maneuver. When deployed ashore, the TUAV must be capable of operating from austere, forward operating sites.

We are scrutinizing the progress of the TUAV ACTD. While the TUAV ground control station and support equipment appear satisfactory, the Outrider's weight significantly exceeds that proposed by the manufacturer. Accordingly, we expect this limitation to significantly impact Outrider's ability to meet our requirements for range, endurance, and takeoff and landing performance.

Vertical Takeoff and Landing (VTOL) Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) Competitive Demonstration

OSD recently directed the Assistant Secretary of the Navy (Research, Development, and Acquisition) to expeditiously conduct a competitive demonstration of existing VTOL UAV commercial systems. We enthusiastically support this initiative. We believe only the VTOL capability will adequately satisfy our requirement for an UAV system capable of operating from all air capable ships.

Tactical Control System

The Marine Corps strongly supports development of a common ground/surface control system that is interoperable with the TUAV and the Predator Medium Altitude Endurance (MAE) UAV. We are confident that the Tactical Control System (TCS) program will satisfy this requirement. By incorporating TCS into the UAV Ground Control Stations, we will be able to control the TUAV flight pattern and sensors, control the Predator's Medium Altitude Endurance (MAE) sensors, and in the future, potentially control and receive information from the High Altitude Endurance (HAE) UAV sensors. The TCS will comply with Common Imagery Ground/Surface Systems and Joint Interoperability Interface Standards which will increase Marine Corps operational flexibility and enhance our ability to distribute imagery, strengthen our intelligence collection efforts, and enable us to tap into joint resources to complement our mix of manned and unmanned tactical airborne reconnaissance resources.

Endurance Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs)

Although the Marine Corps will not procur Endurance UAVs, we need to ensure interoperability with these systems to access their products. We recognize their importance as enhancements to current and future capabilities. They can provide us long-range and near real-time reconnaissance, for communications relays, and for a variety of other missions. Our sense is that the Predator Uav ACTD was successful. The Predator's long range, long dwell time, and beyond line of sight, near real-time imagery will support naval reconnaissance, surveillance, and targeting needs. The two High Altitude Endurance UAV systems, the Dark Star and Global Hawk, have significant potential to support Marine Air Ground Task Force and Naval Task Force operations. For example, High Altitude Endurance UAV imagery and communications relays significantly support the long distances associated with Operational Maneuver From the Sea.


In the White Papers ...From the Sea and Forward ...From the Sea the Navy and Marine Corps presented a common vision for the future in which skillfully handled Naval forces would enable the United States to exert its influence in the littoral regions of the world. Building upon the foundation laid by those papers, Operational Maneuver From the Sea dealt explicitly with the full range of challenges that we will have to face, the dangers and opportunities created by new technologies, and the very exciting prospect of adapting maneuver warfare to all aspects of conflict in and around coastal waters. Our UAV requirements are being refined to fully support Operational Maneuver From the Sea, which in turn complements the Chairman's Joint Vision 2010. We look forward to fielding an UAV system for the 21st Century at the earliest opportunity.

Thank you for your continued support.