Index

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles: Questionable Basis for Revisions to Shadow 200
Acquisition Strategy (Letter Report, 09/26/2000, GAO/NSIAD-00-204).

Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Army's decision to
revise its Shadow 200 tactical Unmanned Aerial vehicle acquisition
strategy.

GAO noted that: (1) the Army has a questionable basis for revising its
acquisition strategy to procure four additional Shadow 200 systems in
February before operational testing is conducted; (2) in contrast, the
Army's original strategy, which would prove system capabilities before
producing additional systems, was sound; (3) among its reasons to
justify the revision, the Army contends that accelerating the program
will enable it to field a much needed capability sooner; (4) also, the
Army believes that risk associated with additional production prior to
operational testing is substantially mitigated by significant
developmental and other testing that is planned; (5) GAO is concerned
that the Army cannot know whether the Shadow 200 system will be
operationally effective before operational testing takes place; and (6)
GAO's previous reviews of other unmanned aerial vehicle programs have
shown that buying systems before successfully completing testing has
repeatedly led to defective systems that were later terminated or
required costly redesign and retrofit to achieve satisfactory
performance.

--------------------------- Indexing Terms -----------------------------

 REPORTNUM:  NSIAD-00-204
     TITLE:  Unmanned Aerial Vehicles: Questionable Basis for Revisions
	     to Shadow 200 Acquisition Strategy
      DATE:  09/26/2000
   SUBJECT:  Army procurement
	     Operational testing
	     Procurement planning
	     Military land vehicles
	     Weapons systems
	     Concurrency
	     Defense capabilities
	     Military aircraft
IDENTIFIER:  Shadow 200 Unmanned Aerial Vehicle

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GAO/NSIAD-00-204

Report to the Chairman, Subcommittee on Military Research and Development,
Committee on Armed Services, House of Representatives

September 2000 UNMANNED AERIAL VEHICLES

Questionable Basis for Revisions to Shadow 200 Acquisition Strategy

GAO/ NSIAD- 00- 204

Letter 3 Appendixes Appendix I: The Army Is Incorporating Lessons Learned

From Previous Experience Into Its Shadow 200 Strategy 14

Appendix II: Comments From the Department of Defense 16 Appendix III: GAO
Contacts and Staff Acknowledgments 18

Figures Figure 1: Shadow 200 Unmanned Aerial Vehicle System 6 Figure 2:
Revised Schedule for Shadow 200 Acquisition Strategy 7

National Security and International Affairs Division

Let ter

B- 285860 September 26, 2000 The Honorable Curt Weldon, Chairman
Subcommittee on Military Research

and Development Committee on Armed Services House of Representatives

Dear Mr. Chairman: The Army plans to buy 44 Shadow 200 tactical unmanned
aerial vehicle systems. Each system includes three unmanned aircraft
(equipped with an imagery sensor 1 ); a vehicle to carry the aircraft; two
ground control stations mounted on vehicles; and launch, recovery, and
support equipment pulled on trailers behind the vehicles. From inside the
ground control station, soldiers operating the unmanned aircraft will fly
them over hostile or contested territory, collecting imagery of areas of
interest for Army commanders so they can detect, identify, and locate enemy
forces. The acquisition cost, including research and development costs, for
the 44 systems is an estimated $430 million through 2004.

Because the Army does not currently have enough unmanned aerial vehicle
systems to meet its requirements, it devised an acquisition strategy in 1999
focused on procuring and fielding the Shadow 200 system as quickly as
possible. The Army's strategy called for acquiring a system that
incorporated mature technologies, 2 which will be integrated and

1 The sensor is the payload carried by the aircraft to accomplish its
mission. Imagery sensors are generally electro- optical (for collecting
television- type images) or infrared (for collecting images based on
detected heat radiating from objects). Infrared capability is especially
useful at night and in other low- light conditions. Combined electro-
optical/ infrared sensors are available.

2 Mature technologies are those that have been developed to the point where
they can be integrated into a new product and counted on to meet product
performance requirements.

demonstrated before the Army commits to full- rate production. 3 The Army's
acquisition strategy also included the low- rate initial production of four
Shadow 200 systems to be used in developmental and operational testing. 4
After evaluating the developmental and operational test results, the Army
plans to decide in September 2001 whether to begin full- rate production of
the Shadow 200 system.

To field systems more quickly, the Army revised its Shadow 200 acquisition
strategy in March 2000 by planning to increase the number of low- rate
initial production systems from four to eight. The decision to produce these
four additional systems would be made in February 2001– 2 months
before operational testing and 7 months ahead of the scheduled full- rate
production decision. As you requested, we have assessed whether the Army
made a sound decision in revising its acquisition strategy. You also
expressed an interest in the extent to which the Army has incorporated
lessons learned from previous experience and from Kosovo/ Operation Allied
Force into its Shadow 200 program. 5 This information is provided in
appendix I.

Results in Brief The Army has a questionable basis for revising its
acquisition strategy to procure four additional Shadow 200 systems in
February 2001 before

operational testing is conducted. In contrast, the Army's original strategy,
which would prove system capabilities before producing additional systems,
was sound. Among its reasons to justify the revision, the Army contends that
accelerating the program will enable it to field a much

3 In DOD's formal acquisition process, the decision to enter full- rate
production does not occur until a system has been operationally tested in an
environment that realistically simulates the system's expected combat
environment. However, before operational testing, low- rate initial
production can take place to produce articles for testing, to prove
manufacturing and production processes, or to build- up to planned higher
rates of production.

4 Developmental testing is a technical test conducted on components,
subsystems, and system- level configurations of hardware and software to
provide data on the achievability of critical system performance parameters.
Operational testing refers to testing conducted in a realistic combat
environment on production or production representative articles to support
the decision to proceed beyond low- rate initial production. The purpose of
this test is to provide a valid estimate of expected system operational
effectiveness and suitability.

5 Operation Allied Force refers to a military operation conducted from March
to June 1999 by the U. S. and our North Atlantic Treaty Organization
(commonly referred to as NATO) allies to bring an end to Serbian atrocities
in Kosovo.

needed capability sooner. Also, the Army believes that risk associated with
additional production prior to operational testing is substantially
mitigated by significant developmental and other testing that is planned. We
are concerned that the Army cannot know whether the Shadow 200 system will
be operationally effective before operational testing takes place. Our
previous reviews of other unmanned aerial vehicle programs have shown that
buying systems before successfully completing testing has repeatedly led to
defective systems that were later terminated or required costly redesign and
retrofit to achieve satisfactory performance.

This report recommends that the Army not buy four additional systems until
after operational testing is completed. The Department of Defense disagreed
with us and stated that the risk associated with procuring these additional
systems prior to operational testing is minimal. We continue to believe that
the Army should not buy the additional systems because only operational
testing of the system in a realistic combat environment can show whether the
overall system will meet the Army's operational needs. If the Army does not
implement our recommendation, we believe the Congress should consider
directing it to do so.

Background The Shadow 200 unmanned aerial vehicle system is expected to
provide the Army with day or night reconnaissance, surveillance, and target
acquisition

capability. The Shadow 200 aircraft will allow Army commanders a view into
heavily protected battlespace that cannot be penetrated by other
intelligence assets or one that presents a high risk to manned aircraft. The
Shadow 200 unmanned aerial vehicle system, formally designated the RQ- 7A,
is shown in figure 1. The aircraft weighs approximately 325 pounds, has a
wingspan of 13 feet, and measures 11 feet from nose to tail.

Figure 1: Shadow 200 Unmanned Aerial Vehicle System

Ground control stations Remote video terminal

Personnel/ equipment and antenna

transport and trailer X4

Ground data terminal Air vehicles with payloads

Portable ground Air vehicle transport

X3

control station and and launch

data terminal trailer

X1

Source: U. S. Army

On December 27, 1999, the U. S. Army awarded a contract to AAI Corporation
for the engineering and manufacturing development of the Shadow 200 system.
During the planned 16- month engineering and manufacturing development
phase, the primary objectives are to translate the most promising design
approach into a stable, interoperable, producible, supportable, and cost-
effective design; validate the manufacturing and production process; and
demonstrate system capabilities through testing. Because the Army believes
the basic Shadow 200 system design is mature, low- rate initial production
of four systems was started at the beginning of the engineering and
manufacturing development phase. The Army expects to receive the first four
systems between December 2000 and May 2001, when the engineering and
manufacturing development phase is scheduled to be completed. These four
systems will be used for developmental and operational testing, contractor
and government performance testing, training, and equipping the first Army
unit. In March 2000, the Army revised this acquisition strategy and now
plans to exercise a second contract option in February 2001, buying four
additional systems prior to operational testing at a cost of $31.8 million
(see fig. 2).

Figure 2: Revised Schedule for Shadow 200 Acquisition Strategy

Fiscal year 2000 2001 O N D J F M A M J J A S O N D J F M A M J J A S

Decision to enter development and produce 4 systems

Deliveries of first 4 systems Decision to produce 4 additional systems
Operational testing Analysis of operational test and report writing Full-
rate production decision

Source: Data from U. S. Army.

Justification for Buying The Army has a questionable justification for
revising its acquisition

More Low- rate Initial strategy to procure the four additional Shadow 200
systems before

operational testing begins. Prior to this decision, the Army's acquisition
Production Systems Is

strategy for the Shadow 200 system was sound because it minimized risk by
Questionable

(1) using mature technologies, (2) completing engineering and manufacturing
development, and (3) demonstrating system capabilities through operational
testing before buying any additional systems.

Original Acquisition Ensuring the maturity of components included in a
system's design is a key

Strategy for Shadow 200 to establishing a sound acquisition strategy. The
Army's program office

Was Sound considers all five of the technologies critical to the Shadow 200
system's

basic design to be mature- that is, at a level considered acceptable for
programs entering the engineering and manufacturing development phase and
ready to be integrated into a single system. 6 Our past work has shown the
soundness of this approach; programs using more mature technology at the
program start are more likely to succeed in meeting their objectives. In
contrast to this lower- risk approach, the Department of Defense has often
allowed immature technologies to be incorporated into its programs, thereby
increasing technical risks. 7 For example, in the Hunter unmanned aerial
vehicle program, the contractor used a motorcycle engine that was unproven
as an airplane engine. Subsequently, in the flying environment, the engines
overheated and valves seized, leading to a redesign of the engine to
eliminate the problem. 8

The original Shadow 200 acquisition strategy was also sound because it
committed the Shadow 200 contractor to complete all its engineering and
manufacturing development activities by May 2001, well before the next
planned production decision scheduled for September 2001. Included in these
activities were all the critical engineering steps necessary to ensure that
the Shadow 200 design is cost- effective, stable, supportable, and
producible. The original strategy also envisioned that the manufacturing

6 The critical technologies are those incorporated into the airframe,
engine, sensor payload, datalink, and ground control station. 7 Best
Practices: Better Management of Technology Development Can Improve Weapon
System Outcomes( GAO/ NSIAD- 99- 162, July 30, 1999).

8 Unmanned Aerial Vehicles: No More Hunter Systems Should Be Bought Until
Problems Are Fixed( GAO/ NSIAD- 95- 52, Mar. 1995).

and production processes for the system would be validated by May 2001. In
contrast, at the time the Department committed to acquiring the Hunter
unmanned aerial vehicle system in January 1993, the system design was
neither stable nor supportable. Subsequently, a number of Hunter aircraft
crashed during testing due to design flaws, costing the U. S. government
millions of dollars and the program time and credibility.

Further, the original Shadow 200 acquisition strategy was sound because it
committed to producing only four systems prior to operational testing, which
is scheduled to begin in April 2001. Operational testing is the primary
means of evaluating weapon system performance in a realistic combat
environment. Although the Shadow 200 design incorporates mature
technologies, operational testing will provide the Army with knowledge about
whether these technologies, when integrated into a single system, will meet
the Army's needs before it commits itself to the system's full- rate
production in September 2001. Moreover, because operational testing was
scheduled to take place in April 2001 and additional production was not
planned to be approved until September 2001, the original strategy provided
the Army with ample opportunity to fully analyze the operational test
results.

Army Has Questionable In December 1999, the Army's acquisition executive
authorized the Shadow

Basis for Revising 200 program to enter the engineering and manufacturing
development

Acquisition Strategy phase and also authorized building four low- rate
initial production systems

to be used in developmental and operational testing. At that time, the
program manager was also directed to develop a plan to accelerate the
fielding of the Shadow 200 system. Subsequently, in March 2000, the Army
revised its original strategy. The revised plan will achieve accelerated
fielding by exercising an option to buy an additional four low- rate initial
production systems in February 2001 before engineering and manufacturing
development is completed and operational testing is conducted (see fig. 2).
These four additional systems would be fielded with operational Army units;
they are not needed for testing.

The intent behind this revision is to enable the Army to field Shadow 200
systems to operational Army units earlier than called for in the original
plan. We asked Army officials, including the program manager, to explain the
basis for this decision. They told us that recent reductions in the Army's
force structure have put a premium on surveillance and reconnaissance to
provide greater situational awareness and knowledge, and acceleration of the
program would allow early fielding of the much needed Shadow 200's

capability. They also stated that risk is substantially mitigated by
significant developmental and other testing. Further, acceleration only
places a portion of the $31.8- million cost for the four additional systems
at risk because most of the hardware could still be used if problems are
later identified during operational testing.

Although the Army might be able to deploy the Shadow 200 systems sooner if
more systems are produced beginning in February 2001, we are concerned that
the Army cannot guarantee their operational effectiveness at the time it
plans to make that decision. Only operational testing can ensure that the
components- even if mature- will work together in a realistic combat
environment. Our previous reviews of other unmanned aerial vehicle programs
have shown that buying systems before successfully completing operational
testing has repeatedly led to defective systems that were later terminated
or required costly redesign and retrofit to achieve satisfactory
performance. For example, because predecessors to the Pioneer unmanned
aerial vehicle system had been used successfully by Israeli forces, the Navy
procured nine Pioneer systems in 1985 without testing and deployed the
system to operational forces. As we reported in 1990, numerous problems
ensued that led the Navy to redesign and modify virtually the entire system
at a cost of about $50 million. 9 The redesign and modification costs about
matched the Navy's cost of $56 million to initially procure its nine
systems.

Conclusions The Army's initial acquisition strategy for the Shadow 200
system appropriately minimized risk by scheduling operational testing before

committing to additional production. The Army's revised- and riskier- plan
to procure four additional systems before operational testing has a
questionable rationale. Although the Army designed the Shadow 200 system
using mature technologies, it has no assurance that its components will work
well together in a realistic combat environment until operational testing is
completed. We believe that the Army should not risk procuring systems before
proving that they will meet its needs and will not require costly and time-
consuming retrofits.

9 Unmanned Aerial Vehicles: Realistic Testing Needed Before Production of
Short- Range System( GAO/ NSIAD- 90- 234, Sept. 28, 1990).

Recommendations for We recommend that the Secretary of Defense direct the
Army not to

Executive Action exercise the option to procure four more Shadow 200
unmanned aerial

vehicle systems until operational testing has been successfully completed
and shown that the systems meet the Army's needs.

Matters for If the Army does not implement our recommendation, we believe
the

Congressional Congress should consider directing the Army to do so.

Consideration Agency Comments In its written comments on a draft of this
report, the Department stated

that the Army should have the option to procure four more Shadow 200 systems
before successfully completing operational testing. It stated that the risk
associated with procuring these additional systems is minimal given the
mature technology used in the program and the extensive developmental and
operational tempo testing 10 planned before the February 2001 scheduled
decision. The Department added that the Army does not need to wait for the
results of operational testing before exercising an additional production
option because the Army will have tested all of the system's critical
technical performance parameters during developmental and other system
testing. The Department also stated that this minimal risk is outweighed by
the benefits associated with accelerating delivery of the Shadow 200 system.

We continue to believe that the Army should wait until after completion of
planned operational testing of the Shadow 200 system in May 2001. The
ongoing developmental and operational tempo testing will provide the Army
with valuable information on critical technical performance parameters such
as range and endurance, but it will not provide the data about the overall
performance of the system in a realistic combat environment that will be
obtained during operational testing. According to

10 Operational tempo testing differs from operational testing in that it
attempts to increase the pace of system operations to increase stress on the
system, but its main purpose is to identify problem areas in design that
need correction rather than to determine if a system will be effective and
suitable in a realistic combat environment when operated by Army units.

the Department of Defense guidance for its major system acquisitions, 11
attainment of individual critical technical performance parameters does not
guarantee that overall system performance will meet operational needs.
Although the Shadow 200 system has not been designated a major system, we
believe this concept is equally applicable to the performance of the Shadow
200 system.

The Department of Defense's written comments are reprinted in appendix II.
The Army also provided technical comments, which we incorporated as
appropriate.

Scope and To assess the Shadow 200 program's acquisition strategy and plans,
we met

Methodology with Department of Defense, Army, and contractor officials, and
analyzed

Shadow 200 system cost data, assessment reports, requirements documents, and
program plans. To assess Shadow 200 system maturity, we asked program
officials to identify the system's critical technologies and apply an
analytical tool developed by the National Aeronautics and Space
Administration to assess the technical maturity of each critical technology
at the time the program entered the engineering and manufacturing design
phase.

To assess the extent to which lessons learned in Operation Allied Force were
used to improve the performance of the tactical unmanned aerial vehicles
(see app. I), we reviewed the Department of Defense's lessons learned
report, 12 reviewed program documentation, and held discussions with program
officials. We conducted our work at the Directorate for Intelligence,
Surveillance, and Reconnaissance Systems, Office of the Secretary of
Defense, Washington, D. C.; Tactical Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Project Office,
Huntsville, Alabama; Training and Doctrine Command System Manager for
Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, Fort Huachuca, Arizona; and AAI Corporation, Hunt
Valley, Maryland.

11 Department of Defense Regulation 5000. 2- R, Mandatory Procedures for
Major Defense Acquisition Programs and Major Automated Information System
Acquisition Programs (Mar. 15, 1996), appendix III, page III- 7.

12 Report to the Congress: Kosovo/ Operation Allied Force After- Action
Report, Department of Defense( Jan. 31, 2000).

We conducted our work from August 1999 through September 2000 in accordance
with generally accepted government auditing standards.

We will send copies of this report to interested congressional committees;
the Honorable William Cohen, Secretary of Defense; the Honorable Louis
Caldera, Secretary of the Army; and the Honorable Jacob Lew, Director,
Office of Management and Budget. Copies will also be made available to
others upon request.

If you have any questions regarding this report, please contact me at (202)
512- 4841. Other contacts and key contributors to this report are listed in
appendix III.

Sincerely yours, Louis J. Rodrigues Director

Appendi xes The Army Is Incorporating Lessons Learned From Previous
Experience Into Its Shadow

Appendi I x 200 Strategy In 1999, the Army, the Navy, and the Air Force
operated RQ- 5A Hunter, RQ- 2A Pioneer, and RQ- 1A Predator unmanned aerial
vehicle systems, respectively, in support of Operation Allied Force in
Kosovo. 1 According to the Department of Defense, these unmanned aerial
vehicles were used to an unprecedented degree and played an unprecedented
role in Operation Allied Force. They were used extensively for surveillance
and reconnaissance missions, and their ability to loiter over hostile
territory enabled them to provide information that was otherwise unavailable
while avoiding the risk of losing aircrews. Nevertheless, in its January
2000 Kosovo/ Operation Allied Force report, the Department of Defense
identified a number of technical improvements it believes unmanned aerial
vehicles need to attain their full promise on the battlefield. These include
the need for (1) improved tactics, techniques, and procedures; (2) more
capable sensor payloads (e. g., advanced imagery, radar, and laser); and (3)
air vehicles that can operate in all types of weather conditions. Based on
its previous experience operating Hunter unmanned aerial vehicles in
peacetime, however, the Army had already learned these lessons and has been
incorporating them into its acquisition strategy for its new tactical
unmanned aerial vehicle system, the Shadow 200.

In January 1999, to improve the Army's understanding of tactics and of
planning considerations for using unmanned aerial vehicles in future
operations, the Army removed a Hunter system from storage and approved its
use for joint readiness training at Fort Polk, Louisiana. Several Army units
have rotated through the training center, and Army operational concepts are
being validated and new lessons learned. One critical lesson learned is that
the Army will be sending its unmanned aerial vehicles into high- risk areas
to conduct surveillance where they are likely to be lost in battle. Thus,
Army unmanned aerial vehicles must be inexpensive enough to be considered
expendable. Hence, the Army's objective cost for a Shadow 200 air vehicle is
about $452,000, which is a fraction of the cost of a manned observation
helicopter.

To address the need for more capable sensor payloads in its unmanned aerial
vehicles, the Army began a yearlong payload study in March 2000. During the
study period, the Army is exploring alternatives and benefits that synthetic
aperture radar, chemical weapons detection, laser range finders, signals
intelligence, and other payloads could provide

1 See Report to the Congress: Kosovo/ Operation Allied Force After- Action
Report, Department of Defense (Jan. 31, 2000).

commanders. 2 Until the study is complete, the only payload that will be
integrated with the Shadow 200 is an imagery sensor to provide television
and infrared pictures. The study will take into account that the Shadow 200
must remain inexpensive and expendable. Therefore, the more complex and
expensive a particular payload is, the more benefits it must provide to the
commander if it is to be incorporated into the Shadow air vehicle.

The Army also recognizes the value of unmanned aerial vehicles with all-
weather capability. Before Operation Allied Force, the Army understood that
unmanned aerial vehicle flight and sensor performance are adversely affected
by the elements- especially icing. However, the Army's belief that tactical
unmanned aerial vehicles must be inexpensive enough to lose and the Shadow
200's small size make it impractical to give the Shadow 200 aircraft all-
weather capability. The Army plans to integrate a sensor on the Shadow 200
aircraft to detect icing; once icing is detected, the aircraft operator can
fly the aircraft out of the icing environment. Other than this sensor, the
Shadow 200 aircraft will not have all- weather capability because adding
additional weight in the form of deicing equipment to a vehicle of this size
would substantially limit its range and sensor payload capacity.

2 A synthetic aperture radar uses radar signals and the complex information
processing capability of modern digital electronics to provide high
resolution imagery that is used by the aircraft operators on the ground for
reconnaissance and targeting.

Appendi I x I Comments From the Department of Defense

Appendi xI I I GAO Contacts and Staff Acknowledgments GAO Contacts Robert E.
Levin (202) 512- 4841 Charles A. Ward (202) 512- 4343 Acknowledgments In
addition to those named above, Thomas L. Gordon, Danny G. Owens,

Jose A. Ramos, Jr., and Susan Woodward made key contributions to this
report.

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Appendix I

Appendix I The Army Is Incorporating Lessons Learned From Previous
Experience Into Its Shadow 200 Strategy

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Appendix II

Appendix II Comments From the Department of Defense

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Appendix III

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