Current UAV Programs... SINCE ITS NOVEMBER 1993 ESTABLISHMENT in the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense (Acquisition and Technology) (USD(A&T)), the DARO has been responsible for overall budget preparation and oversight of the Defense Airborne Reconnaissance Program (DARP). The DARP comprises Joint Service and Defense-wide airborne reconnaissance programs, and includes manned and unmanned systems, and their associated sensors, data links, and ground systems. Today, the Services remain the acquisition executives for existing programs and their life-cycle support, while the DARO oversees the development, demonstration, acquisition and support of all airborne reconnaissance systems.
The DARP's two UAV programs are designed to satisfy the operational requirements for a mix of close range, short range and endurance capabilities established by the JROC. They are:
- The Joint Tactical (JT) UAV Program, which includes the Hunter UAV and Maneuver UAV; also support for the deployed Pioneer UAV
- The Endurance UAV Program, comprising two Advanced Concept Technology Demonstrations (ACTDs):
- The "Predator" Medium Altitude Endurance (MAE) UAV (Tier II)
- The High Altitude Endurance (HAE) program, which includes two air vehicle designs, the Conventional (CONV) HAE UAV (Tier II+) and "DarkStar" Low Observable (LO) HAE UAV (Tier III-), and a HAE common ground segment.
The management of these programs is organized as follows:
The Hunter systems are being delivered to several Army military intelligence units and to one Marine Corps UAV company. In August 1995, the Air Force established the 11th Reconnaissance Squadron at Nellis AFB, NV, initially to support the basing of the MAE UAV and potentially the HAE UAVs. Future endurance UAV production and logistics planning will depend on ACTD successes.
- The Navy's Program Executive Officer for Cruise Missiles and Joint Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (PEO(CU)), supported by the Army's JT UAV Program Office (at Huntsville, AL), manages the JT UAV acquisition program
- The PEO(CU)'s Navy UAV Program Office (PMA-263) is responsible for the Pioneer program and Navy liaison for the HAE ACTD
- The PEO(CU)'s System Engineering Directorate is managing the MAE ACTD
- The Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA), supported by its HAE UAV Program Office (at Arlington, VA), is managing the two-aircraft HAE ACTD.
UAVs have enormous potential, but they are going to [present] enormous challenges [to fit] into our overall construct. The best way to figure out what the problems are is to [create] a squadron where you can have people focused on that effort day in and day out. I can assure you that [creation] of the 11th Recon Squadron is done ... to get into the UAV business, so that we can in fact fully exploit their potential.
Gen Joseph W. Ralston
Commander, Air Combat Command
Quoted in Defense News, August 1995