Unmanned Aerial Vehicles: DOD's Acquisition Efforts (Testimony, 04/09/97,
GAO/T-NSIAD-97-138).

GAO discussed the Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) acquisition efforts that
the Department of Defense (DOD) has undertaken over the past 15 years.

GAO noted that: (1) according to DOD, its objective in acquiring UAVs is
to provide unmanned systems that will compliment its mix of manned and
national reconnaissance assets; (2) however, its UAV acquisition efforts
to date have been disappointing; (3) since Aquila began in 1979, of
eight UAV programs, three have been terminated (Aquila, Hunter, and
Medium Range), three remain in development (Outrider, Global Hawk,
DarkStar), and one is now transitioning to low rate production
(Predator); (4) only one of eight, Pioneer, has been fielded as an
operational system; and (5) GAO estimates DOD has spent more than $2
billion for development and, or, procurement on these eight UAV programs
over the past 18 years.

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

 REPORTNUM:  T-NSIAD-97-138
     TITLE:  Unmanned Aerial Vehicles: DOD's Acquisition Efforts
      DATE:  04/09/97
   SUBJECT:  Military procurement
             Military aircraft
             Air defense systems
             Military appropriations
             Testing
             Defense capabilities
             Aircraft research
             Research and development
IDENTIFIER:  Hunter Unmanned Aerial Vehicle
             Medium Range Unmanned Aerial Vehicle
             Pioneer Unmanned Aerial Vehicle
             Short Range Unmanned Aerial Vehicle
             Aquila Unmanned Aerial Vehicle
             Outrider Unmanned Aerial Vehicle
             Copperhead Projectile
             Predator Unmanned Aerial Vehicle
             Global Hawk Unmanned Aerial Vehicle
             DarkStar Unmanned Aerial Vehicle
             Bosnia
             Somalia
             
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Cover
================================================================ COVER


Before the Subcommittees on Military Research and Development and
Military Procurement, Committee on National Security, House of
Representatives

For Release on Delivery
Expected at
2:00 p.m., EST
Wednesday,
April 9, 1997

UNMANNED AERIAL VEHICLES - DOD'S
ACQUISITION EFFORTS

Statement of Louis J.  Rodrigues, Director, Defense Acquisitions
Issues, National Security and International Affairs Division

GAO/T-NSIAD-97-138

GAO/NSIAD-97-138T


(707256)


Abbreviations
=============================================================== ABBREV

  ACTD -
  DOD -
  LRIP -
  NATO -
  UAV -

============================================================ Chapter 0

Mr.  Chairmen and Members of the Subcommittees: 

I am pleased to be here today to briefly discuss the Unmanned Aerial
Vehicle (UAV) acquisition efforts that the Department of Defense
(DOD) has undertaken over the past 15 years.  My comments are based
on our reviews of a number of UAV programs, including Aquila,
Pioneer, the Medium Range UAV, Hunter, Outrider, and Global Hawk.\1
After a short summary, I would like to present you with a
chronological discussion of the descriptions and outcomes of some of
these programs, and then provide you with some key observations about
DOD's UAV acquisition efforts. 


--------------------
\1 A chronological list of our prior UAV reports appears at the end
of this testimony. 


   SUMMARY
---------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 0:1

According to DOD, its objective in acquiring UAVs is to provide
unmanned systems that will complement its mix of manned and national
reconnaissance assets.  However, its UAV acquisition efforts to date
have been disappointing.  Since Aquila began in 1979, of eight UAV
programs, three have been terminated (Aquila, Hunter, Medium Range),
three remain in development (Outrider, Global Hawk, DarkStar), and
one is now transitioning to low rate production (Predator).  Only one
of the eight, Pioneer, has been fielded as an operational system.  We
estimate DOD has spent more than $2 billion for development and/or
procurement on these eight UAV programs over the past 18 years. 


   OUTCOMES OF DOD'S UAV
   ACQUISITION EFFORTS
---------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 0:2

DOD's first major post-Vietnam UAV acquisition efforts, Aquila,
Pioneer, and the Medium Range UAV, were managed by the services.  The
Congress has strongly supported DOD's acquisition of UAVs and has
sought to encourage cooperation among the military services.  In
1987, the Congress consolidated funding for UAVs in a single Defense
Agencies account instead of separate service accounts.  This action
led to the formation of DOD's UAV Joint Projects Office in 1988 to
manage and control UAV programs as joint efforts and prevent
unnecessary duplication by the services. 

The Defense Airborne Reconnaissance Office within the Office of the
Secretary of Defense oversees the Joint Projects Office.  Joint
programs undertaken that we have reviewed include Hunter, Outrider,
Global Hawk, Predator and DarkStar. 


      AQUILA
-------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 0:2.1

The Army's first major UAV acquisition effort was the Aquila program. 
This program started in 1979 and was originally estimated to cost
$123 million for a 43-month development effort, followed by planned
expenditures of $440 million for procurement of 780 air vehicles and
associated equipment.  By the time the Army abandoned the program in
1987 due to cost, schedule, and technical difficulties, Aquila had
cost over $1 billion, and future procurement costs were expected to
have been an additional $1.1 billion for 376 aircraft. 

The original mission for Aquila was to have been relatively
straightforward:  it was to be a small, propeller-driven aircraft
(portable by four soldiers) that could provide ground commanders with
real-time battlefield information about enemy forces located beyond
the line of sight of ground observers.  As development was nearing
completion, it became evident that the requirement for the small
aircraft size conflicted with the many avionics and payload-related
items the Army wanted to put inside the UAV.  Aquila was expected to
fly by autopilot, carry sensors to locate and identify enemy point
targets in day or night, use a laser to designate the targets for the
Copperhead artillery projectile, provide conventional artillery
adjustment, and survive against Soviet air defenses.  Achieving the
latter expectation required development of a jam-resistant, secure
communications link, but using the secure link degraded the video
quality, which interfered with the ability to do targeting.  During
operational testing in 1987, Aquila was only able to successfully
meet mission requirements on 7 of 105 flights. 


      PIONEER
-------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 0:2.2

After having been impressed by stories of Israeli successes with UAVs
in the early 1980s, the Navy initiated an expedited procurement of
UAV systems.  These systems were to serve as spotters for naval
gunfire support from its battleships, as well as provide a UAV
capability for the Marine Corps.  The resulting Pioneer, produced by
a joint venture of an American and Israeli firms, skipped the
traditional U.S.  development phase of the acquisition process, and
nine systems, each with eight air vehicles, were procured beginning
in 1986 at an estimated cost of $87.7 million.  Similar to Aquila,
Pioneer was a small, propeller-driven aircraft. 

The Pioneer began to encounter unanticipated problems almost
immediately.  Recovery aboard ship and electromagnetic interference
from other ship systems were serious problems that led to a
significant number of crashes.  The Pioneer system also suffered from
numerous other shortcomings.  Ultimately, the Navy undertook a $50
million research and development effort to bring the nine Pioneer
systems up to a level it described as a "minimum essential
capability." Although Pioneer has never met objective requirements,
the Navy and Marine Corps used the Pioneer in Operation Desert Storm,
and operations in Somalia and, most recently, Bosnia.  DOD plans to
phase out Pioneer when the Outrider, which is now in development
becomes available. 


      MEDIUM RANGE UAV
-------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 0:2.3

The Medium Range UAV began as a joint effort of the Navy and Air
Force.  The Medium Range UAV was to augment the services' manned
penetrating reconnaissance aircraft, such as the Air Force's RF-4C. 
Like these manned aircraft, the Medium Range UAV was to be powered by
a jet engine and penetrate enemy airspace at high subsonic speed, and
not slowly loiter for long periods over hostile territory like Aquila
or Pioneer.  The operational concept called for the Medium Range UAV
to precede strike aircraft deep into hostile airspace (350 nautical
miles) and relay back near-real-time video that could be used by
aircrews and mission planners to identify the highest priority
targets and help plan the safest and most effective ways to strike
them.  The UAV would then return after the air strikes were completed
to conduct battle damage assessment. 

The Medium Range UAV began as a multiservice, cooperative venture. 
The Navy was to design and build the air vehicle.  Air vehicle
development costs were estimated to be $387 million in 1993.  The Air
Force would design and build the sensor payload with cameras,
videotape recorder, and communications data link to send back the
imagery from the UAV.  Payload development was originally estimated
to cost $164 million.  Unfortunately, the Air Force ran into major
difficulties with the payload.  Development costs grew to an
estimated $346 million, the payload program fell behind schedule, and
developmental tests on a surrogate manned aircraft were not
successful. 

The Navy encountered design problems as well, and one test aircraft
crashed.  Perhaps most significantly for the Medium Range UAV
program, the prototype payload ended up being too big to fit in the
space the Navy had allotted inside the aircraft.  In June 1993, the
Air Force terminated the payload contract due to technical
difficulties.  The Medium Range UAV was terminated in October 1993 by
DOD for affordability reasons. 


      HUNTER
-------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 0:2.4

The Joint Project Office's first UAV acquisition effort was the Short
Range UAV, subsequently named the Hunter.  The program was started in
1988.  It was originally estimated to cost about $1.2 billion for
development and procurement of 50 systems with 400 Hunter air
vehicles and other associated equipment.  However, by the end of the
program in 1995, the cost was expected to be $2.1 billion for
development and procurement of 52 systems. 

The mission of the Hunter was to be day and night reconnaissance,
intelligence, surveillance, and target acquisition for Corps
Commanders.  It was to be deployed to Army divisions and corps, as
well as naval task forces, and operate at a range of 200 kilometers. 
Because of line-of-sight limits, the system's range and ability to
see over terrain were dependent on the use of a second Hunter air
vehicle operating at a closer range to relay imagery from the first
air vehicle to the task force or ground commander. 

During Limited User Testing in 1992, Hunter's demonstrated problems
included the inability to reliably transmit video imagery during
relay operations, meet Army time standards for artillery adjustments,
and meet standards for reliability.  The Hunter system, with all its
associated parts and support vehicles, was also far too large to fit
in the number of airlift aircraft specified for moving one system. 
Nevertheless, DOD awarded a $171 million low-rate initial production
(LRIP) contract for seven Hunter systems in early 1993.  Subsequent
logistics demonstrations in 1993 revealed that the system could not
be supported in the field. 

The Hunter contractor began delivering the seven LRIP systems in May
1994.  Government acceptance testing of these systems revealed new
deficiencies with the system's software, data link and engines. 
Several crashes occurring in short order led to the system being
grounded for months.  DOD terminated the program in January 1996 by
allowing the contract to expire. 


      OUTRIDER
-------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 0:2.5

In the wake of the Hunter termination, DOD awarded a $57-million
contract in 1996 for six Outrider Tactical UAV systems.  DOD will
evaluate the military utility of the Outrider through multiservice
demonstrations.  The demonstrations will determine if Outrider can
fulfill the role for which it was originally designed--reconnaissance
and surveillance within
50 kilometers--as well as cover the 200-kilometer range that was the
Hunter objective.  Outrider systems are intended to be fielded with
Army brigades and battalions, Navy task forces, and Marine Corps
regiments and battalions.  Between now and 2003, if the
demonstrations are successful, DOD will spend $268.5 million on
Outrider UAV and associated system development and $583.2 million for
procurement of 60 Outrider systems with 240 aircraft. 


      PREDATOR
-------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 0:2.6

Predator UAV development was completed during a 30-month advanced
concept technology demonstration (ACTD) that ended in June 1996.\2

The demonstration process allowed DOD to procure Predator UAVs for
testing while avoiding much of the paperwork and oversight of the
traditional acquisition process.  Predator is now beginning LRIP as a
traditional acquisition program.  Development and procurement costs
are estimated at $579 million for 13 Predator systems with 80 air
vehicles. 

Predator's mission will be to support the Theater Commander and Joint
Force Commander with long-range (500 nautical miles), long
time-over-target (more than 20 hours), near-real-time imagery to
satisfy reconnaissance, surveillance, and target acquisition
requirements.  Going beyond the capabilities of the smaller UAVs
being developed for ground and task force commanders (such as
Outrider), the much larger Predator will be equipped with adverse
weather payloads and satellite relay data links.  Each Predator
system will consist of four air vehicles, related ground support
equipment, and a large complement of personnel.  During the
demonstration phase, Predator UAVs were deployed to Albania to
support Bosnia operations in 1995 and two were lost, one to hostile
fire and one reportedly to engine failure.  After improvements,
Predator was deployed to Hungary in 1996 to support NATO operations
in Bosnia.  Experience with Predator deployments showed that the
system can be adversely affected by unfavorable weather conditions. 
The Air Force assumed operational control of the remaining Predator
demonstration assets in October 1996. 


--------------------
\2 As part of its acquisition reform efforts, DOD has authorized a
number of ACTDs to try to streamline the acquisition process. 


      GLOBAL HAWK
-------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 0:2.7

The Global Hawk UAV is in development as an advanced concept
technology demonstration project.  Unlike the small propeller-driven
aircraft designed for "seeing over the next hill", Global Hawk is a
high-altitude endurance UAV.  It is intended to reach altitudes of up
to 65,000 feet, have a radius of 3,000 nautical miles, remain over
the target area for 24 hours, and have total endurance of greater
than 40 hours.  Global Hawk is expected to fly surveillance missions
in which long range, extended endurance and long periods of time over
the target area are paramount. 

The Global Hawk airframe is a conventional aircraft design, offering
no special protection from enemy radar systems.  As a result, DOD
plans to procure Global Hawk UAVs along with another high-altitude
endurance UAV, the DarkStar, that will be a "stealth" design.  Global
Hawks will be used in low-to-medium risk environments, while
DarkStars will be used in high-risk areas.  The planned first flight
of Global Hawk has been delayed from February to late fall 1997. 


      DARKSTAR
-------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 0:2.8

As with Global Hawk, the DarkStar high-altitude endurance UAV is
being developed as part of an advanced concept technology
demonstration program.  Unlike Global Hawk, DarkStar is to be
optimized to penetrate and operate in the presence of high-threat air
defense systems in which ensured coverage and survivability are more
important than total endurance.  DarkStar is designed to have
low-observable characteristics to minimize the vehicle's radar
detectability and enhance survivability. 

DarkStar is projected to fly at a high altitude (greater than 45,000
feet), have a radius greater than 500 nautical miles and be able to
remain over the target area for 8 hours.  The DarkStar program will
utilize the same manned common ground segment for launch and
recovery, control, and communications as Global Hawk.  The planned
first flight of DarkStar occurred in March 1996; however, a second
flight in April 1996 crashed.  The next flight is scheduled for
September 1997. 

Mr.  Chairmen, with this overview of past and ongoing UAV efforts as
a backdrop, let me make several observations that decision-makers may
want to keep in mind when addressing proposals for further UAV
acquisition. 


   OBSERVATIONS ABOUT UAV
   ACQUISITION
---------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 0:3

1.  The more you ask a UAV to do, the harder it becomes to build. 
UAV system acquisitions need to be protected from what is known as
"requirements creep." Just because another capability could
conceivably be added to a UAV does not mean it should be added as a
requirement.  Any proposed new requirement should be judged by its
overall effect on the acquisition program in terms of cost, schedule,
and performance.  DOD's experience with the Aquila UAV acquisition
effort in particular showed that a system that was intended to
provide ground commanders with a simple reconnaissance capability,
that is, "to see over the next hill," was at least partly undermined
by additional requirements, such as capability for precision
targeting. 

2.  UAV "availability" should not be construed as "capability."
Several UAV acquisition efforts have reflected preconceived notions
that, because the technologies being inserted into a UAV system are
considered mature, any resulting systems composed of those
technologies will be mature.  This notion is most visible when a UAV
is proffered to DOD and the Congress as being a "nondevelopmental
item," or being available "off-the-shelf." A number of our studies
have shown that these UAVs cannot be assumed to meet DOD or service
requirements.  The reality is that, after having been subjected to
the rigors of realistic operating environments and/or wartime
operating tempos, UAVs procured as nondevelopmental items often have
to be returned to the research and development cycle.  Making them
useful to the military users can involve great unanticipated
expenses. 

3.  When you buy a UAV, remember you are buying more than an unmanned
aircraft.  The air vehicle is only the most visible portion of that
system.  Besides air vehicles, a UAV system includes numerous other
items, such as computer processors and software, sensor payloads,
data links, data dissemination equipment, ground control stations,
launch and recovery equipment, and a logistics support network.  Our
reviews have shown that, before production begins, DOD needs to
ensure that adequate testing has shown that the necessary parts have
been proven to work successfully together, and that the entire system
will be affordable to operate and maintain throughout its lifecycle. 


-------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 0:3.1

Mr.  Chairman, this concludes my prepared statement.  I would be
happy to respond to any questions you may have.  Appendix I provides
additional information on DOD's major UAV acquisition efforts. 


=========================================================== Appendix I


   AQUILA
--------------------------------------------------------- Appendix I:1

Program started in 1979; ended in 1988. 

                 (Cost estimates (dollars in millions))

                                   Original (1978)         Last (1987)
------------------------------  ------------------  ------------------
Development                                   $123                $868
Procurement                                    440               1,157
======================================================================
Total                                         $563              $2,025
Number of aircraft                             780                 376
----------------------------------------------------------------------
Mission:  To support brigade commanders fire support mission with
laser target designation and artillery adjustment; to be survivable
against Soviet air defenses; and be forward located. 

Design requirements:  television/laser designator payload;
lightweight, manportable air vehicle; low detectability; secure,
jam-resistant data link; An Aquila system consisted of 13 air
vehicles and related ground support equipment. 

During operational testing in 1986-87, Aquila successfully met its
mission requirements on only 7 of 105 flights.  Specific problems
occurred in launch, targeting, survivability, reliability.  Test
criteria were not rigorous and contractors were found to have unduly
influenced the scoring of test data. 

Observations on reasons for problems:  A lightweight man-portable air
vehicle suitable for location with front-line troops was inadequate
for satisfying the extensive performance requirements. 

Congress withdrew support for the program and directed DOD to combine
Aquila funding into an overall UAV line item. 



   HUNTER
--------------------------------------------------------- Appendix I:2

Program started in 1989; ended in 1996. 

                 (Cost estimates (dollars in millions))

                                Development
                                estimate            Last estimate
------------------------------  ------------------  ------------------
Development                     $ 138.2             $ 189.2

Procurement                     1093.4              1893.7

Military construction                               15.8

======================================================================
Total                           $1231.6             $2098.7

Number of systems               50 with 400         52 with 416
                                aircraft            aircraft
----------------------------------------------------------------------
Mission:  To provide corps and division level ground and maritime
forces with near-real-time imagery intelligence within a 200 km
direct radius of action, extensible to 300+ km using relay
operations.  Relay operations involve controlling one air vehicle,
operating at long range, through a relay payload on another air
vehicle operating at a closer range. 

Design requirements:  Television, infra-red, and relay payloads; A
single Hunter system consists of 8 air vehicles with sensors and
related ground support equipment. 

During Limited User Testing in 1992, Hunter successfully completed
only
4 of 11 relay flights.  Test results revealed (1) the system's
ability to transmit video imagery during relay operations was
unacceptable for a fielded system, (2) the system may never meet Army
time standards for artillery adjustments, and (3) the system was
unreliable. 

DOD awarded a $171 million low-rate production contract for 7 Hunter
systems in early 1993.  Logistics Demonstrations in 1993 revealed
that the system was not yet sustainable and did not have a support
structure in place.  Government acceptance testing of the low-rate
production systems revealed new deficiencies with the systems
software, datalink and engines.  Observations on reasons for
problems:  DOD did not allow enough time to perform (1) system
integration necessary to integrate non-developmental components of
the system or (2) analyses necessary to develop a logistic support
system.  DOD terminated the program in January 1996 by allowing the
contract to expire. 



   OUTRIDER
--------------------------------------------------------- Appendix I:3

The Outrider Advanced Concept Technology Demonstration began in May
1996.  DOD plans for the Outrider ACTD to last 2 years and then
transition to traditional acquisition if successful. 

                 (Cost estimates (dollars in millions))

----------------------------------------  ----------------------------
Development                               $268.5

Procurement                               583.2

======================================================================
Total                                     $851.7

Number of systems/air vehicles            60 systems/240 air vehicles
----------------------------------------------------------------------
Mission:  To support tactical commanders with near-real time imagery
intelligence at ranges beyond 200 km and on-station endurance greater
than 4 hours. 

Design requirements:  Television and infra-red payloads, Outrider air
vehicle not to cost more than $350,000 for the 33rd air vehicle and
sensor and $300,000 for 100th air vehicle and sensor; A single
Outrider system consists of four air vehicles with sensors and
related ground equipment. 

DOD plans to examine the military utility of the Outrider system in a
series of operational demonstrations.  If the operational
demonstrations are successful, DOD plans to exercise a low-rate
initial production contract option for up to 6 systems in third
quarter fiscal year 1998. 



   PREDATOR
--------------------------------------------------------- Appendix I:4

Predator completed a 30 month Advanced Concept Technology
Demonstration (ACTD) June 30,1996.  Predator begins low-rate initial
production and becomes a traditional acquisition program in fiscal
1997. 

                 (Cost estimates (dollars in millions))

----------------------------------------  ----------------------------
Development                               $ 209.9+

Procurement                               368.8

======================================================================
Total                                     $578.7+

Number of systems/air vehicles            13 systems/80 vehicles\a
----------------------------------------------------------------------
\a Includes 3 vehicles lost--1 to hostile fire; 1 reportedly to
engine failure; 1 production vehicle in flight testing. 

Mission:  To support the in-theater Commander-in-Chief, National
Command Authority, and Joint Force Commander with long-range
(500 nautical miles), long time over target (more than 20 hours),
near-real-time imagery intelligence necessary to satisfy
reconnaissance, surveillance and target acquisition requirements

Design requirements:  Television, infra-red, and adverse weather
payloads; line-of-sight and satellite relay data links; Each Predator
System consists of four air vehicles and related ground support
equipment including one Trojan Spirit II Dissemination System. 

As part of the ACTD, Predator was deployed to Albania to support U.S. 
and NATO Bosnia operations from July through November 1995.  After
improvements, including adding an adverse weather sensor, Predator
was deployed to Hungary from March 1, 1996, to February 1997, to
again support NATO operations in Bosnia. 

The Air Force assumed operational control of Predator assets on
September 2, 1996. 



   GLOBAL HAWK
--------------------------------------------------------- Appendix I:5

                 (Cost estimate (dollars in millions))

----------------------------------------  ----------------------------
Development (air vehicles)                $370.7

Development (Common Ground Segment-       272.6
shared with DarkStar)

======================================================================
Total RDT&E                               $643.3

Number of systems/air vehicles            3 Ground Segments/8 UAVs
----------------------------------------------------------------------
Mission:  Global Hawk is intended to complement manned and national
reconnaissance assets by providing continuous unmanned all-weather,
wide-area high resolution imagery coverage in support of military
operations.  It is to operate in low to moderate risk threat
environment after the suppression of enemy air defense and to
optimized to support those surveillance missions in which long-range,
extended endurance and long dwell over the target area are paramount. 

System description/characteristics:  The Global Hawk is an Advanced
Concept Technology Demonstration program.  It is projected to be a
fully integrated system consisting of the air vehicle,
electro-optical/infrared and synthetic aperture radar sensors,
communications, and the capability to disseminate collected imagery
in near-real-time to tactical warfighters at various levels of
command.  It is to be interoperable with existing reconnaissance
architectures for data collection processing, exploitation, and
dissemination.  Global Hawk is expected to operate at a moderate
speed of 345 knots, a high altitude of up to 65,000 feet, have a
radius of 3,000 nautical miles and then be able to remain on station
for 24 hours, and endurance of greater than 40 hours.  The system
also includes a manned Common Ground Segment to be located at a
forward operating base that will provide launch and recovery, mission
control, ground communications, and is also to be common to and
interoperable with the stealthy DarkStar high altitude endurance UAV. 

The planned first flight of Global Hawk has been delayed from
February to late fall 1997. 



   DARKSTAR
--------------------------------------------------------- Appendix I:6

                 (Cost estimates (dollars in millions))

----------------------------------------  ----------------------------
Development (air vehicles)                $326.9

Development (Common Ground Segment)       (Shown with Global Hawk)

======================================================================
Total RDT&E                               326.9

Number of systems/air vehicles            6 UAVs\a
----------------------------------------------------------------------
\a DarkStar will utilize Common Ground Segments with Global Hawk. 

Mission:  DarkStar is intended to complement manned and national
reconnaissance assets by providing unmanned long dwell, all-weather,
wide-area high resolution imagery coverage in support of military
operations in heavily defended areas.  Unlike Global Hawk, it is to
be optimized to penetrate and operate in the presence of high threat
air defense systems where assured coverage and survivability are more
important than total endurance. 

System description/characteristics:  The DarkStar is an Advanced
Concept Technology Demonstration program.  It is projected to be a
fully integrated system consisting of the air vehicle,
electro-optical and synthetic aperture radar sensors, as well as the
associated command, control, and sensor data links to disseminate
collected imagery in near-real-time to tactical warfighters at
various levels of command.  It is to be interoperable with existing
reconnaissance architectures for data collection processing,
exploitation, and dissemination.  DarkStar is designed to have
low-observable characteristics to minimize the vehicles radar
detectability and enhance survivability.  It is expected to operate
at a speed of greater than 250 knots, a high altitude greater than
45,000 feet, have a radius greater than 500 nautical miles and then
be able to remain on station for
8 hours, and mission endurance greater than 8 hours.  The DarkStar
program also includes the manned Common Ground Segment that will be
located at a forward operating base to provide launch and recovery,
mission control, ground communications, and is also to be common to
and interoperable with the conventional Global Hawk high altitude
endurance UAV. 

The planned first flight of DarkStar occurred in March 1996; however,
a second flight in April 1996 crashed due to incorrect aerodynamic
modeling of the vehicles flight control laws.  The flight control
laws have been redesigned and the next flight is scheduled for
October 1997. 

RELATED GAO PRODUCTS

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles:  Hunter System Is Not Appropriate for Navy
Fleet Use (GAO/NSIAD-96-2, Dec.  1, 1995). 

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles:  Maneuver System Schedule Includes
Unnecessary Risk (GAO/NSIAD-95-161, Sept.  15, 1995). 

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles:  No More Hunter Systems Should Be Bought
Until Problems are Fixed (GAO/NSIAD-95-52, Mar.  1, 1995). 

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles:  Performance of Short-Range System in
Question (GAO/NSIAD-94-65, Dec.  15, 1993). 

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles:  More Testing Needed Before Production of
Short-Range System (GAO/NSIAD-92-311, Sept.  4, 1992). 

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles:  Medium-Range System Components Do Not Fit
(GAO/NSIAD-91-2, Mar.  25, 1991). 

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

Unmanned Vehicles:  Assessment of DOD's Unmanned Aerial Vehicle
Master Plan (GAO/NSIAD-89-41BR, Dec.  9, 1988). 

Aquila Remotely Piloted Vehicle:  Its Potential Battlefield
Contribution Still in Doubt (GAO/NSIAD-88-19, Oct.  26, 1987). 

Aquila Remotely Piloted Vehicle:  Recent Developments and
Alternatives (GAO/NSIAD-86-41BR). 

The Army's RPV Shows Good Potential, but Faces a Lengthy Development
Program (GAO/C-MASAD-82-8, Feb.  26, 1982). 

*** End of document. ***