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Testimony:

Before the Subcommittee on Tactical Air and Land Forces, Committee on 
Armed Services, House of Representatives:

United States General Accounting Office:

GAO:

For Release on Delivery Expected at 2:00 p.m. EST:

Wednesday, March 17, 2004:

UNMANNED AERIAL VEHICLES:

Major Management Issues Facing DOD's Development and Fielding Efforts:

Statement of Statement of Neal P. Curtin, Director Defense Capabilities 
and Management:

and:

Paul L. Francis, Director Acquisition and Sourcing Management:

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles:

GAO-04-530T:

GAO Highlights:

Highlights of GAO-04-530T, testimony before the Subcommittee on 
Tactical Air and Land Forces, House Committee on Armed Services 

Why GAO Did This Study:

The current generation of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) has been 
under development since the 1980s. UAVs were used in Afghanistan and 
Iraq in 2002 and 2003 to observe, track, target, and strike enemy 
forces. These successes have heightened interest in UAVs within the 
Department of Defense (DOD). Congress has been particularly interested 
in DODís approach to managing the growing number of UAV programs. 

GAO was asked to summarize (1) the results of its most current report 
on DODís approach to developing and fielding UAVs [NOTE 1] and the 
extent to which the approach provides reasonable assurance that its 
investment will lead to effective integration of UAVs into the force 
structure, and (2) the major management issues GAO has identified in 
prior reports on UAV research and development.

NOTE 1: 1 U.S. General Accounting Office, Force Structure: Improved 
Strategic Planning Can Enhance DOD's Unmanned Aerial Vehicles Efforts, 
GAO-04-342 (Washington, D.C.: Mar. 17, 2004).

What GAO Found:

GAO's most recent report points out that while DOD has taken some 
positive steps, its approach to UAV planning still does not provide 
reasonable assurance that the significant Congressional investment in 
UAVs will result in their effective integration into the force 
structure. In 2001, DOD established the joint UAV Planning Task Force 
in the Office of the Secretary of Defense to promote a common vision 
for UAV-related efforts and to establish interoperability standards. To 
communicate its vision and promote UAV interoperability, the task force 
issued the 2002 UAV Roadmap. While the Roadmap provides some strategic 
guidance for the development of UAV technology, neither the Roadmap nor 
other documents represent a comprehensive strategic plan to ensure that 
the services and other DOD agencies focus development efforts on 
systems that complement each other, will perform the range of priority 
missions needed, and avoid duplication. Moreover, the Task Force has 
only advisory authority and, as such, cannot compel the services to 
adopt its suggestions. 

GAOís prior work supports the need for effective oversight of 
individual UAV programs at the departmental level. UAVs have suffered 
from requirements growth, risky acquisition strategies, and uncertain 
funding support within the services. Some programs have been 
terminated. Success has been achieved as a result of top-level 
intervention and innovative acquisition approaches. For example, in 
2003, the Office of the Secretary of Defense had to intervene to keep 
the Unmanned Combat Air Vehicle program viable. As UAV programs grow in 
the future, they will face challenges in the form of increased funding 
competition, greater demand for capabilities, and spectrum and airspace 
limitations. Moreover, UAVs are no longer an additional ďnice-to-haveĒ 
capability; they are becoming essential to the servicesí ability to 
conduct modern warfare. Meeting these challenges will require continued 
strong leadership, building on the UAV Roadmap and Planning Task Force 
as GAO has recommended.

What GAO Recommends:

In our most recent report, GAO recommends that DOD (1) establish a 
strategic plan to guide UAV development and fielding and (2) designate 
the UAV Task Force or other appropriate body to oversee the planís 
implementation, ensuring sufficient authority is provided.

www.gao.gov/cgi-bin/getrpt?GAO-04-530T.

To view the full product, including the scope and methodology, click on 
the link above. For more information, contact Neal Curtin at (202) 
512-4914 or curtinn@gao.gov; or Paul Francis at (202) 512-2811 or 
francisp@gao.gov.

[End of section]

Mr. Chairman and Members of the Subcommittee:

We appreciate the opportunity to appear before you today to discuss the 
major management issues that we identified in our current and prior 
work on the research, development, and fielding of the latest 
generation of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) by the Department of 
Defense (DOD). The current generation of UAVs has been under 
development for defense applications since the 1980s, and as DOD 
continues to transform the way in which it conducts military 
operations, UAVs are becoming a vital part of the force structure.

For our statement today, you asked us to discuss the results of our 
most recent report to the subcommittee, which is being released 
today.[Footnote 1] In this report, we summarized recent UAV costs and 
funding, and analyzed DOD's approach to developing and fielding UAVs to 
see to what extent the approach provides reasonable assurance that UAV 
programs will be efficiently integrated into the force structure. You 
also asked that we summarize the major management issues we have 
identified in prior reports on UAV programs, including our 2003 report 
on the unmanned combat aerial vehicle.[Footnote 2]

Summary:

In our report being released today, we point out that funding for UAV 
research and development and procurement has been increasing in recent 
years, and Congress has actually provided more funds for UAV 
acquisition than DOD requested. During the past 5 fiscal years, 
Congress provided about $2.7 billion in funding for UAV development and 
procurement as compared with about $2.3 billion requested by DOD. 
Additionally, spending on operations and maintenance for UAVs has been 
increasing as DOD has begun using UAV systems in recent military 
operations. This growing spending reflects the importance that Congress 
has placed on UAVs as they have demonstrated success in recent 
operations. We also report that DOD's approach to planning for UAVs 
does not provide reasonable assurance that the investment will result 
in the effective integration of UAV programs into the force structure. 
We recognize that DOD has taken certain positive steps to improve the 
UAV program's management. For example, to help manage UAV development, 
in 2001 DOD established a joint UAV Planning Task Force in the Office 
of the Secretary of Defense to promote a common vision for UAV-related 
efforts and to establish interoperability standards. Also, to 
communicate its vision and promote UAV interoperability, the Task Force 
issued the 2002 UAV Roadmap, which describes current programs, 
identifies potential missions for UAVs, and provides guidance on 
developing emerging technologies. Our concern, however, is that neither 
the Roadmap nor other defense planning documents represent a 
comprehensive strategic plan to ensure that the services and other DOD 
agencies focus development efforts on systems that complement each 
other, will perform the range of priority missions needed, and avoid 
duplication. Moreover, the joint UAV Planning Task Force does not have 
program directive authority and serves only in an advisory capacity to 
the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisitions, Technology, and 
Logistics. Without a strategic plan and an oversight body with 
sufficient authority to implement the plan, DOD risks poorly 
integrating UAVs into the force structure, which could increase 
development, procurement, and logistics costs, and increase the risk of 
future interoperability problems. Consequently, in our most recent 
report we recommended that DOD (1) establish a strategic plan to guide 
UAV development and fielding and (2) designate the joint UAV Planning 
Task Force or other appropriate body to oversee the plan's 
implementation, ensuring sufficient authority is provided.

Our prior work on UAV systems identifies the growing importance of UAVs 
to effective military operations and the need for the effective 
oversight of service programs at the departmental level. Over the 
years, UAV acquisition programs have suffered from requirements growth, 
risky acquisition strategies, and uncertain funding support within 
individual services. Some of these programs have been terminated. 
Program success has been achieved as a result of leadership 
intervention and the use of innovative approaches like the Advanced 
Concept Technology Demonstration.[Footnote 3] DOD's experience with the 
Unmanned Combat Air Vehicle program is a case in point; intervention by 
the Office of the Secretary of Defense was necessary to keep the 
program viable. Over the years, we have reported that DOD has faced 
some expensive lessons in managing its UAV program. As UAVs become more 
and more integral to the way the U.S. military carries out operations, 
it will become even more important that the department manages its 
program effectively. UAVs are no longer an additional "nice-to-have" 
capability; they are becoming essential to the services' ability to 
conduct modern warfare. The acquisition environment for new UAVs will 
be characterized by increased funding competition, greater demand for 
UAV capabilities, and electromagnetic frequency spectrum and airspace 
limitations. This will require strong leadership at the departmental 
level, building on the UAV Roadmap and efforts of the joint UAV 
Planning Task Force, to ensure that the most cost-effective solutions 
are adopted as we have recommended in our previous work.

Background:

DOD defines a UAV as a powered aerial vehicle that does not carry a 
human operator; can be land-, air-, or ship-launched; uses aerodynamic 
forces to provide lift; can be autonomously or remotely piloted; can be 
expendable or recoverable; and can carry a lethal or nonlethal payload. 
Generally, UAVs consist of the aerial vehicle; a flight control 
station; information and retrieval or processing stations; and, 
sometimes, wheeled land vehicles that carry launch and recovery 
platforms.

UAVs have been used in a variety of forms and for a variety of missions 
for many years. After the Soviet Union shot down a U-2 spy plane in 
1960, certain UAVs were developed to monitor Soviet and Chinese nuclear 
testing. Israel used UAVs to locate Syrian radars and was able to 
destroy the Syrian air defense system in Lebanon in 1982. The United 
States has used UAVs in the Persian Gulf War, Bosnia, Operation 
Enduring Freedom, and Operation Iraqi Freedom for intelligence, 
surveillance, and reconnaissance missions and to attack a vehicle 
carrying suspected terrorists in Yemen in 2002. The United States is 
also considering using UAVs to assist with border security for homeland 
security or homeland defense.

The current generation of UAVs has been under development for defense 
applications since the 1980s. UAVs won considerable acceptance during 
military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq in 2002 and 2003, 
respectively. They were used in these operations to observe, track, 
target, and in some cases strike enemy forces. These and similar 
successes have heightened interest in UAVs within DOD and the services. 
In fact, by 2010, DOD plans to have at least 14 different UAVs in the 
force structure to perform a variety of missions. Moreover, in the 
fiscal year 2001 National Defense Authorization Act, Congress 
established the goal that one-third of the Air Force's deep-strike 
capability be provided by UAVs by 2010.[Footnote 4]

The overall management of UAV programs has gone full circle. In 1989 
the DOD Director of Defense Research and Engineering set up the UAV 
Joint Project Office as a single DOD organization with management 
responsibility for UAV programs. With the Navy as the Executive Agency, 
within 4 years the Joint Project Office came under criticism for a lack 
of progress. Replacing the office in 1993, DOD created the Defense 
Airborne Reconnaissance Office as the primary management oversight and 
coordination office for all departmentwide manned and unmanned 
reconnaissance. In 1998, however, this office also came under criticism 
for its management approach and slow progress in fielding UAVs. In that 
same year, this office was dissolved and UAV program development and 
acquisition management was given to the services, while the Assistant 
Secretary of Defense for Command, Control, Communications and 
Intelligence was assigned to provide oversight for the Secretary of 
Defense.

GAO's New Report Calls for Improved Strategic Planning:

Our report being issued today (Force Structure: Improved Strategic 
Planning Can Enhance DOD's Unmanned Aerial Vehicles Efforts, GAO-04-
342, Mar. 17, 2004) analyzes recent funding trends for UAVs and makes 
recommendations to strengthen DOD's strategic planning and management 
approach for UAVs.

UAV Funding Has Increased:

During the past 5 fiscal years, Congress provided funding for UAV 
development and procurement that exceeds the amounts requested by DOD, 
and to date the services have obligated about 99 percent of these 
funds. To promote the rapid employment of UAVs, Congress appropriated 
nearly $2.7 billion to develop and acquire UAVs from fiscal year 1999 
through fiscal year 2003, compared with the $2.3 billion requested by 
DOD. The majority of the funds--$1.8 billion (67 percent)--have been 
for UAV research, development, test, and evaluation. Figure 1 displays 
the trends in research, development, test, and evaluation and 
procurement funding from fiscal year 1999 through fiscal year 2003.

Figure 1: UAV Research, Development, Test, and Evaluation (RDT&E) and 
Procurement Obligations, Fiscal Years 1999-2003:

[See PDF for image]

[End of figure]

Over these 5 years, only three systems--the Air Force's Predator and 
Global Hawk, and the Army's Shadow--have matured to the point that they 
required procurement funding, amounting to about $880 million by fiscal 
year 2003 and another estimated $938 million needed by fiscal year 
2005.

Because Congress has appropriated more funds than requested, the 
services are able to acquire systems at a greater rate than planned. 
For example, in fiscal year 2003, the Air Force requested $23 million 
to buy 7 Predator UAVs, but Congress provided over $131 million, enough 
to buy 29 Predators. The Air Force had obligated 71 percent of the 
Predator's fiscal year 2003 funding during its first program year.

The Hunter, Predator, Pioneer, and Shadow are among the UAV systems 
currently being used, and therefore we determined the level of DOD's 
operations and maintenance spending from fiscal year 1999 through 
fiscal year 2003 for these systems. Operations and maintenance funding 
has steadily increased over that period from about $56.6 million for 
three of the systems to $155.2 million in 2003 for all four. These 
increases are the result of a larger inventory of existing systems and 
the introduction of new systems. Figure 2 displays the operations and 
maintenance spending for these UAV systems for fiscal years 1999 to 
2003.

Figure 2: Operations and Maintenance Funding for UAVs, for Fiscal Years 
1999 to 2003:

[See PDF for image]

[End of figure]

Progress Made, but Challenges Remain in UAV Planning:

DOD has taken certain positive steps to improve the management of the 
UAV program by establishing a program focal point in the joint UAV 
Planning Task Force and trying to communicate a common vision for UAV 
development, the UAV Roadmap. While the creation of the Task Force and 
the UAV Roadmap are important steps to improve the management of the 
program, they are not enough to reasonably assure that DOD is 
developing and fielding UAVs efficiently. The Task Force's authority is 
generally limited to program review and advice, but is insufficient to 
enforce program direction. Moreover, the UAV Roadmap does not 
constitute a comprehensive strategic plan for developing and 
integrating UAVs into force structure.

Some Positive Steps Have Been Taken to Improve Program Management:

Since 2000, DOD has taken several positive steps to improve the 
management of the UAV program. In October 2001, the Under Secretary of 
Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics created the joint 
UAV Planning Task Force as the joint advocate for developing and 
fielding UAVs. The Task Force is the focal point to coordinate UAV 
efforts throughout DOD, helping to create a common vision for future 
UAV-related activities and to establish interoperability standards. For 
example, the Task Force is charged with developing and coordinating 
detailed UAV development plans, recommending priorities for development 
and procurement efforts, and providing the services and defense 
agencies with implementing guidance for common UAV programs.

The development of the 2002 Roadmap has been the Task Force's primary 
product to communicate its vision and promote interoperability. The 
Roadmap is designed to guide U.S. military planning for UAV development 
through 2027, and describes current programs, identifies potential 
missions, and provides guidance on developing emerging technologies. 
The Roadmap is also intended to assist DOD decision makers to build a 
long-range strategy for UAV development and acquisition in such future 
planning efforts as the Quadrennial Defense Review or other planning 
efforts.

The Joint UAV Planning Task Force Has Limited Authority:

The joint UAV Planning Task Force's authority is generally limited to 
program review and advice, but is insufficient to enforce program 
direction. The Task Force Director testified before the House Armed 
Services Committee in March 2003 that the Task Force does not have 
program directive authority, but provides the Under Secretary of 
Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics with advice and 
recommended actions.[Footnote 5] Without such authority, according to 
the Director, the Task Force seeks to influence services' programs by 
making recommendations to them or proposing recommended program changes 
for consideration by the Under Secretary. According to defense 
officials, the Task Force has attempted to influence the joint 
direction of service UAV efforts in a variety of ways, such as 
reviewing services' budget proposals, conducting periodic program 
reviews, and participating in various UAV-related task teams and has 
had some successes, as shown below:

* The Task Force has encouraged the Navy to initially consider an 
existing UAV (Global Hawk) rather than develop a unique UAV for its 
Broad Area Marine Surveillance mission.

* The Task Force has worked with the Army's tactical UAV program to 
encourage it to consider using the Navy's Fire Scout as an initial 
platform for the Future Combat System class IV UAV.

* The Task Force convinced the Air Force to continue with the Unmanned 
Combat Aerial Vehicle program last year when the Air Force wanted to 
terminate it, and the Task Force ultimately helped the then-separate 
Air Force and Navy programs merge into a joint program.

* The Task Force convinced the Navy not to terminate the Fire Scout 
rotary wing UAV program as planned.

However, the Task Force cannot compel the services to adopt any of its 
suggestions and consequently has not always succeeding in influencing 
service actions. For example, according to DOD officials, no 
significant progress has been made in achieving better interoperability 
among the services in UAV platform and sensor coordination, although 
efforts are continuing in this vein.

DOD Has No Comprehensive Strategic Plan:

Neither the Roadmap nor other DOD guidance documents represent a 
comprehensive strategy to guide the development and fielding of UAVs 
that complement each other, perform the range of missions needed, and 
avoid duplication. DOD officials acknowledged that the Office of the 
Secretary of Defense has not issued any guidance that establishes an 
overall strategy for UAVs in DOD. While high-level DOD strategic-
planning documents--such as the National Military Strategy, the Joint 
Vision 2020, and the Defense Planning Guidance--provide some general 
encouragement to pursue transformational technologies, including the 
development of UAVs, these documents do not provide any specific 
guidance on developing and integrating UAVs into the force structure.

At the same time, while the Joint Requirements Oversight 
Council[Footnote 6] has reviewed several UAVs and issued guidance for 
some systems, neither the Joint Staff nor the council has issued any 
guidance that would establish a strategic plan or overarching 
architecture for DOD's current and future UAVs. In June 2003, the 
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff created the Joint Capabilities 
Integration and Development System to provide a top-down capability-
based process. Under the system, five boards have been chartered, each 
representing a major warfighting capability area as follows: (1) 
command and control, (2) force application, (3) battle space awareness, 
(4) force protection, and (5) focused logistics. Each board has 
representatives from the services, the combatant commanders, and 
certain major functions of the Under Secretary of Defense. Each board 
is tasked with developing a list of capabilities needed to conduct 
joint operations in its respective functional areas. The transformation 
of these capabilities is expected, and the boards are likely to 
identify specific capabilities that can be met by UAVs. Nonetheless, 
according to Joint Staff officials, these initiatives will not result 
in an overarching architecture for UAVs. However, the identification of 
capabilities that can be met by UAVs is expected to help enhance the 
understanding of DOD's overall requirement for UAV capabilities.

Moreover, according to officials in the Office of the Secretary of 
Defense, the UAV Roadmap was not intended to provide an overarching 
architecture for UAVs. The Roadmap does state that it is intended to 
assist DOD decision makers in building a long-range strategy for UAV 
development and acquisition in such future planning efforts as the 
Quadrennial Defense Review. Nonetheless, the Roadmap represents a start 
on a strategic plan because it incorporates some of the key components 
of strategic planning, as shown below:

Long-term goals--The Roadmap states its overall purpose and what it 
hopes to encourage the services to attain. The Roadmap refers to the 
Defense Planning Guidance's intent for UAVs as a capability and 
indicates that the guidance encourages the rapid advancement of this 
capability. At the same time, it does not clearly state DOD's overall 
or long-term goals for its UAV efforts. Similarly, while it states that 
it wants to provide the services with clear direction, it does not 
clearly identify DOD's vision for its UAV force structure through 2027.

Approaches to obtain long-term goals--The Roadmap's "Approach" section 
provides a strategy for developing the Roadmap and meeting its goal. 
This approach primarily deals with identifying requirements and linking 
them to needed UAV payload capabilities, such as sensors and associated 
communication links. The approach then ties these requirements to 
forecasted trends in developing technologies as a means to try to 
develop a realistic assessment of the state of the technology in the 
future and the extent to which this technology will be sufficient to 
meet identified requirements. At the same time, however, the Roadmap 
does not provide a clear description of a strategy for defining how to 
develop and integrate UAVs into the future force structure. For 
example, the Roadmap does not attempt to establish UAV development or 
fielding priorities, nor does it identify the most urgent mission-
capability requirements. Moreover, without the sufficient 
identification of priorities, the Roadmap cannot link these priorities 
to current or developing UAV programs and technology.

Performance goals--The Roadmap established 49 specific performance 
goals for a variety of tasks. Some of these goals are aimed at fielding 
transformational capabilities without specifying the missions to be 
supported. Others are to establish joint standards and control costs. 
Nonetheless, of the 49 goals, only 1 deals directly with developing and 
fielding a specific category of UAV platform to meet a priority 
mission-capability requirement--the suppression of enemy air defenses 
or strike electronic attack. The remaining goals, such as developing 
heavy-fuel aviation engines suitable for UAVs, are predominantly 
associated with developing UAV or related technologies as well as UAV-
related standards and policies to promote more efficient and effective 
joint UAV operations. However, the Roadmap does not establish overall 
UAV program goals.

Performance indicators--Some of the 49 goals have performance 
indicators that could be used to evaluate progress, while others do 
not. Furthermore, the Roadmap does not establish indicators that 
readily assess how well the program will meet the priority mission 
capabilities.

As the services and defense agencies pursue separate UAV programs, they 
risk developing systems with duplicate capabilities, potentially higher 
operating costs, and increased interoperability challenges. The House 
Appropriations Committee was concerned that without comprehensive 
planning and review, there is no clear path toward developing a UAV 
force structure.[Footnote 7] Thus, the committee directed that each 
service update or create a UAV roadmap. These roadmaps were to address 
the services' plans for the development of future UAVs and how current 
UAVs are being employed. Officials from each of the services indicated 
that their UAV roadmap was developed to primarily address their 
individual service's requirements and operational concepts. However, in 
their views, such guidance as the Joint Vision 2020, National Military 
Strategy, and Defense Planning Guidance did not constitute strategic 
plans for UAVs to guide the development of their individual service's 
UAV roadmap. These officials further stated that the Office of the 
Secretary of Defense's 2002 UAV Roadmap provided some useful guidance, 
but was not used to guide the development of the service's UAV 
roadmaps. Moreover, they did not view the Office of the Secretary of 
Defense's Roadmap as either a DOD-wide strategic plan or an overarching 
architecture for integrating UAVs into the force structure. According 
to service officials developing the service-level UAV roadmaps, there 
was little collaboration with other services' UAV efforts.

As we have described for you today, DOD has an opportunity to enhance 
its strategic planning to improve the management of UAV development and 
fielding. In the report released to you today, we make two 
recommendations to assist DOD to enhance its management control over 
the UAV program. We recommend that DOD establish a strategic plan or 
set of plans based on mission requirements to guide UAV development and 
fielding. We also recommend that DOD designate the joint UAV Planning 
Task Force or another appropriate organization to oversee the 
implementation of a UAV strategic plan. In responding to our report, 
DOD stated that it partially concurred with the first recommendation 
but preferred to address UAV planning through the Joint Capabilities 
Integration and Development System process. DOD disagreed with the 
second recommendation saying that it did not need to provide an 
organization within the department with more authority because it 
believes that the Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition, Logistics, 
and Technology already has sufficient authority to achieve DOD's UAV 
goals. Our report states clearly that we continue to support both 
recommendations. We believe that the growth in the number and cost of 
UAV programs, and their importance to military capabilities, will need 
more formalized oversight by DOD.

Oversight Challenge Is Framed by Experiences of the Past and Demands of 
the Future:

Our reviews of system development efforts over the last several decades 
show that the road to fielding operational UAVs has not been easy. 
Success has been achieved as a result of intervention by leadership and 
the use of innovative processes. Even when put on a sound footing, 
these programs have continued to face new challenges. In the future, 
UAVs will be growing in number, sophistication, and significance, but 
will also have to compete for increasingly scarce funds, 
electromagnetic frequency spectrum, and airspace.

Lessons From Past Experience:

Since the mid 1970s, we have reviewed many individual DOD UAV 
development efforts.[Footnote 8] A list of our reports is attached in 
the section entitled "Related GAO Products." Our previous work has 
highlighted problems that addressed congressional efforts to bring the 
development process under control and subsequently led to the 
termination or redesign and retrofit of a number of these development 
efforts.

In 1988 we reported on a variety of management challenges related to 
UAV development.[Footnote 9] At that time, congressional committees had 
expressed concern about duplication in the services' UAV programs, 
which ran counter to the committees' wishes that DOD acquire UAVs to 
meet common service needs. In 1988, we noted that DOD was to provide, 
at minimum, a UAV master plan that (1) harmonized service requirements, 
(2) utilized commonality to the maximum extent possible, and (3) made 
trade-offs between manned and unmanned vehicles in order to provide 
future cost savings. After budget deliberations for fiscal year 1988, 
Congress eliminated separate service accounts for individual UAV 
programs and consolidated that funding into a single Defense Agencies 
account. This in turn led to the formation of DOD's UAV Joint Projects 
Office, which promoted joint UAV efforts that would prevent unnecessary 
duplication. This effort was led by the Defense Airborne Reconnaissance 
Office within the Office of the Secretary of Defense, which has since 
been disbanded.

Our analysis of DOD's 1988 UAV master plan identified a number of 
weaknesses: (1) it did not eliminate duplication, (2) it continued to 
permit the proliferation of single-service programs, (3) it did not 
adequately consider cost savings potential from manned and unmanned 
aircraft trade-offs, and (4) it did not adequately emphasize the 
importance of common payloads among different UAV platforms.

In testimony presented in April 1997, we recognized the strong support 
that Congress had provided for DOD's UAV acquisition efforts and how it 
had encouraged the department to spur related cooperation between the 
services.[Footnote 10] We noted that problems with UAV development 
continued and were leading to cost, schedule, and performance 
deficiencies; continued duplication of UAV capabilities; and even 
program cancellations in many instances. In 1997, only one UAV--the 
Pioneer--had been fielded.

Factors That Limit UAV Development:

Since 1997, we have continued to evaluate the department's UAV 
development efforts, including plans to develop a lethal variant of 
UAVs called unmanned combat air vehicles. Our reviews over the last 27 
years have revealed several reasons why UAV efforts have not been 
successful, including requirements that outstrip technology, overly 
ambitious schedules, and difficulties integrating UAV components and 
UAV testing. We have also found that UAV system acquisitions processes 
were not protected from what is known as "requirements creep." These 
requirements changes increase development and procurement costs 
significantly. For example:

* The Aquila was started in 1979 with a straightforward mission to 
provide small, propeller-driven UAVs to give group commanders real-time 
battlefield information about enemy forces beyond ground observers' 
line of sight.[Footnote 11] Requirements creep increased complexity and 
development and anticipated procurement costs significantly. For 
example, in 1982 a requirement for night vision capability was added 
which increased development costs due to the additional payloads and 
air vehicles needed to meet the new requirement. During operational 
tests, the Aquila successfully fulfilled all requirements in only 7 of 
105 flights.

* When the Air Force's Global Hawk reconnaissance UAV was started in 
1994, it was expected to have an average unit flyaway price of $10 
million. Changes in the aircraft's range and endurance objectives 
required the contractor to modify the wings and other structural parts, 
and by 1999 its cost had increased by almost 50 percent. In our April 
2000 report, we concluded that the cost of air vehicles to be produced 
could increase still further, because the Air Force had not finalized 
its design requirements.[Footnote 12] In 2002, the Global Hawk program 
adopted a higher-risk strategy that calls for both a larger, more 
advanced aircraft and an accelerated delivery schedule.

* In June 2003 we reported that the original requirements for the Air 
Force's unmanned combat air vehicle (UCAV) program posed significant, 
but manageable challenges to build an air vehicle that is affordable 
throughout its life cycle, highly survivable, and lethal.[Footnote 13] 
Subsequently, however, the Air Force added requirements--adding a 
mission and increasing flying range. This action widened the gap 
between requirements and resources and increased the challenge for the 
development program.

Aside from the air vehicle, other ground and airborne systems are also 
needed for the UAV to be complete. DOD's practice of buying systems 
before successful completion of testing has repeatedly led to defective 
systems that were terminated, redesigned, or retrofitted to achieve 
satisfactory performance. Our reviews have shown that, before 
production begins, DOD needs to test to ensure that all key parts of 
the UAV system can work successfully together, and that it can be 
operated and maintained affordably throughout its lifecycle.

* In March 1999, we examined the Medium Range UAV, which began in 1989 
as a joint effort of the Navy and Air Force.[Footnote 14] The Air Force 
was to design and build the sensor payload, including cameras, a 
videotape recorder, and a communications data link that would send back 
the imagery from the UAV. The Navy was to design and build the air 
vehicle. Splitting and then integrating these development efforts 
became problematic. The Air Force ran into major payload development 
difficulties, which impacted payload development costs. As a result of 
the difficulties, the payload program fell behind schedule, 
developmental tests on a surrogate manned aircraft[Footnote 15] were 
unsuccessful, and the payload was too big to fit in the space the Navy 
had allotted inside the aircraft. In 1993, the program was terminated.

* In 1999, the Army began low-rate initial production of four Shadow 
systems at the same time that it began the engineering and 
manufacturing development phase. In February 2001, the Army sought to 
revise its acquisition strategy to procure four additional Shadow 
systems before conducting operational tests. We recommended in a 2000 
report that the Army not buy these four additional systems until after 
operational testing is completed.[Footnote 16] In our opinion, only 
operational testing of the system in a realistic environment can show 
whether the overall system would meet the Army's operational needs. 
Subsequently, we reported that problems encountered during early tests 
forced the program to delay completion of operational testing by one 
year. The results of operational tests revealed that the Shadow was not 
operationally suitable, survivable, and may not be affordable.

Factors That Lead to UAV Success:

Our body of UAV work also made several observations about factors that 
contribute to success, including the use of innovative approaches and 
high-level interventions by individuals and organizations. In August 
1999, we concluded that DOD's use of Advanced Concept Technology 
Demonstration projects improved UAV acquisitions because it focused on 
maturing technology and proving military utility before committing to a 
UAV.[Footnote 17] We found that DOD's Advanced Concept Technology 
Demonstration approach was consistent with the practices that we 
typically characterize as leading commercial development efforts. 
Predator UAV used a 30-month Advanced Concept Technology Demonstration 
approach and prototypes were deployed in Bosnia in 1995 and 1996 as 
part of the demonstration. Performance data gathered there convinced 
military users that Predator was worth acquiring.

High-level individuals intervened to set resource constraints and 
encouraged evolutionary acquisition strategies on the Air Force's 
Global Hawk, the Army's Shadow UAV, and the Joint Unmanned Combat Air 
System programs.

* In the initial Shadow program, the Army's top military acquisition 
executive reached an agreement with his counterpart in the requirements 
community that limited the program to "must have" capabilities and 
restrained resources such as cost. This resulted in the need to make 
trade-offs--so the Army lowered the performance requirement for the 
imagery sensor so that existing technology could be used.[Footnote 18]

* In the Global Hawk program, the Under Secretary of Defense 
(Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics) became personally involved and 
insisted that the program take an evolutionary approach, developing and 
fielding different versions of increasingly capable UAVs. He also 
placed cost constraints on the initial version, which enabled more 
advanced imagery sensor capabilities to be deferred for later versions 
of the UAV.

* In our report on the Unmanned Combat Air Vehicle program, we reported 
on Air Force plans to have initial deliveries of a lethal-strike-
capable aircraft by 2011.[Footnote 19] The Air Force had abandoned the 
Unmanned Combat Air Vehicle initial low-risk approach to development, 
and increased requirements and accelerated its program schedule shortly 
before it was to shift to the product development stage. As previously 
reported, it took intervention by the Office of the Secretary of 
Defense to resolve requirements and funding challenges and maintain 
strong oversight over the program. The Task Force also was instrumental 
in getting the funding restored to the program, creating a joint effort 
between the Air Force and Navy, and accelerating the Navy's version. 
Their strong oversight and intervention might have saved the program, 
which is now known as the Joint Unmanned Combat Air System program.

Future Challenges in Oversight of UAVs:

Over the next decade, DOD plans show that UAV investments will 
increase, greater numbers will be fielded, and these systems will play 
more significant roles than in the past. In addition to overcoming the 
problems and pressures that have impaired past programs, managers of 
future UAV programs will face increasing competition for money, 
electromagnetic frequency spectrum bandwidth, and airspace.

By 2010, DOD plans to invest $11 billion in UAV acquisitions, 
quadrupling the number of systems in its inventory today. As UAV 
programs vie for increased funding, they will have to compete against 
very large programs, such as the F/A-22 and the Joint Strike Fighter. 
If the costs of acquisition programs continue to exceed what has been 
set aside in the budget, competition will intensify and funding could 
be jeopardized.

Initially, UAVs were seen as complementary systems that augmented 
capabilities the warfighter already had. They were, in a sense, 
"another pair of eyes." We are already seeing the evolution of UAVs 
into more significant roles, for which they provide primary capability. 
For example, the Global Hawk is being seen as replacing the U-2 
reconnaissance aircraft, and the Unmanned Combat Air Vehicle may 
eventually perform electronic warfare missions that the EA-6 Prowler 
aircraft performs today. UAVs are figuring prominently in plans to 
transform the military into a more strategically responsive force. UAVs 
are expected to be an integral part of this information-based force. 
For example, UAVs may serve as relay nodes in the Future Combat 
System's command and control network. As UAVs perform increasingly 
significant roles, their payloads and designs will likely become more 
sophisticated.

UAVs depend on the available space in the electromagnetic frequency 
spectrum to send and receive signals. Such signals are essential to UAV 
control, communications, and imagery. As the number of UAVs grows, the 
systems will have to compete for more room on the spectrum. Spectrum 
resources are scarce and facing increased demands from sources other 
than UAVs. Because of the changing nature of warfighting, more and more 
military systems are coming to depend on the spectrum to guide 
precision weapons and obtain information superiority. Recently, because 
of advances in commercial technology, a competition for scarce 
frequency spectrum has developed between government and nongovernment 
users.

Moreover, as the growing number of UAV systems become available for 
military units and civilian agencies, such as the Department of 
Homeland Security, their operation will also need to be integrated into 
the national airspace system. Currently, the Federal Aviation 
Administration requires detailed coordination and approval of UAV 
flights in the national airspace system. The Federal Aviation 
Administration and DOD are working on how to better integrate military 
UAVs within the national air space system. In the future, UAVs are 
going to be used for homeland security, and their acceptance into civil 
airspace may be difficult to accomplish until significant work is 
accomplished in the areas of reliability, regulation, communications, 
and collision avoidance.

Concluding Remarks:

Recent operations are convincing military commanders that UAVs are of 
real value to the warfighter. That success on the battlefield is 
leading to more and more demand for UAVs and innovative ways of using 
them, creating pressures such as a greater need for interoperability of 
systems and competition for limited resources like money, 
electromagnetic frequency spectrum, and airspace. The UAVs that are 
successful today survived an environment characterized by a number of 
canceled programs, risky strategies, uncoordinated efforts, and 
uncertain funding. It took additional measures for them to succeed, not 
the least of which was strong management intervention. In recent years, 
DOD has taken positive steps to better manage the development of UAVs 
by creating the joint UAV Planning Task Force and the UAV Roadmap. The 
question is whether these steps will be sufficient to make the most out 
of current and future investments in UAVs. We believe that DOD should 
build on these good steps so that it will be in a better position to 
provide stewardship over these investments. Taking these steps will 
give Congress confidence that its investments' in the technology will 
produce optimum capabilities desired of UAVs.

Mr. Chairman, this concludes our prepared statement. We would be happy 
to answer any questions that you or Members of the subcommittee may 
have.

Contacts and Staff Acknowledgements:

For future questions about this statement, please contact Mr. Curtin at 
(202) 512-4914, Mr. Francis at (202) 512-2811, or Brian J. Lepore at 
(202) 512-4523. Individuals making key contributions to this statement 
include Fred S. Harrison, Lawrence E. Dixon, James K. Mahaffey, James 
A. Driggins, Jerry W. Clark, Jose Ramos, Jr., R.K. Wild, Bob Swierczek, 
and Kenneth E. Patton.

[End of section]

Related GAO Products:

Force Structure: Improved Strategic Planning Can Enhance DOD's Unmanned 
Aerial Vehicles Efforts. GAO-04-342. Washington, D.C.: March 17, 2004.

Nonproliferation: Improvements Needed for Controls on Exports of Cruise 
Missile and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles. GAO-04-493T. Washington, D.C.: 
March 9, 2004.

Nonproliferation: Improvements Needed to Better Control Technology 
Exports for Cruise Missiles and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles. GAO-04-175. 
Washington, D.C.: January 23, 2004.

Defense Acquisitions: Matching Resources with Requirements Is Key to 
the Unmanned Combat Air Vehicle Program's Success. GAO-03-598. 
Washington, D.C.: June 30, 2003.

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles: Questionable Basis for Revisions to Shadow 
200 Acquisition Strategy. GAO/NSIAD-00-204. Washington, D.C.: 
September 26, 2000.

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles: Progress of the Global Hawk Advanced Concept 
Technology Demonstration. GAO/NSIAD-00-78. Washington, D.C.: April 25, 
2000.

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles: DOD's Demonstration Approach Has Improved 
Project Outcomes. GAO/NSIAD-99-33. Washington, D.C.: August 30, 1999.

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles: Progress toward Meeting High Altitude 
Endurance Aircraft Price Goals. GAO/NSIAD-99-29. Washington, D.C.: 
December 15, 1998.

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles: Outrider Demonstrations Will Be Inadequate to 
Justify Further Production. GAO/NSIAD-97-153. Washington, D.C.: 
September 23, 1997.

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles: DOD's Acquisition Efforts. GAO/ T-NSIAD-97-
138. Washington, D.C.: April 9, 1997.

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles: Hunter System Is Not Appropriate for Navy 
Fleet Use. GAO/NSIAD-96-2. Washington, D.C.: December 1, 1995.

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles: Performance of Short Range System Still in 
Question. GAO/NSIAD-94-65. Washington, D.C.: December 15, 1993.

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles: More Testing Needed Before Production of 
Short Range System. GAO/NSIAD-92-311. Washington, D.C.: September 4, 
1992.

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles: Medium Range System Components Do Not Fit. 
GAO/NSIAD-91-2. Washington, D.C.: March 25, 1991.

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles: Realistic Testing Needed Before Production of 
Short Range System. GAO/NSIAD-90-234. Washington, D.C.: September 28, 
1990.

Unmanned Vehicles: Assessment of DOD's Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Master 
Plan. GAO/NSIAD-89-41BR. Washington, D.C.: December 9, 1988.

FOOTNOTES

[1] U.S. General Accounting Office, Force Structure: Improved Strategic 
Planning Can Enhance DOD's Unmanned Aerial Vehicles Efforts, GAO-04-342 
(Washington, D.C.: Mar. 17, 2004).

[2] U.S. General Accounting Office, Defense Acquisitions: Matching 
Resources with Requirements Is Key to the Unmanned Combat Air Vehicle 
Program's Success, GAO-03-598 (Washington, D.C.: June 30, 2003).

[3] The Advanced Concept Technology Demonstration program was initiated 
by DOD in 1994 as a way to get new technologies that meet critical 
military needs into the hands of users faster and at less cost than the 
traditional acquisition process.

[4] P.L. 106-398, Section 220.

[5] Statement of the Director, Joint UAV Planning Task Force before the 
Subcommittee on Tactical Air and Land Forces, House Armed Services 
Committee, March 26, 2003.

[6] The Joint Requirements Oversight Council is a joint organization 
made up of senior representatives from each of the services to review 
joint experimentation and make appropriate recommendations to the 
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, CJCSI 3180.1 (Washington, D.C.: 
Oct. 31, 2002).

[7] Department of Defense Appropriation Bill, 2003 Report, H.R. Rep. 
No. 107-532 at 207.

[8] U.S. General Accounting Office, Status of the Remotely Piloted 
Aircraft Programs. GAO/PSAD-77-30 (Washington, D.C.: February 18, 
1977).

[9] U.S. General Accounting Office, Unmanned Vehicles: Assessment of 
DOD's Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Master Plan, GAO/NSIAD-89-41BR 
(Washington, D.C.: Dec. 9, 1988).

[10] U.S. General Accounting Office, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles: DOD's 
Acquisition Efforts, GAO/T-NSIAD-97-138 (Washington, D.C.: April 9, 
1997).

[11] U.S. General Accounting Office, Aquila Remotely Piloted Vehicle: 
Its Potential Battlefield Contribution Still in Doubt, GAO/NSIAD-88-19 
(Washington, D.C.: October 26, 1987).

[12] U.S. General Accounting Office, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles: Progress 
of the Global Hawk Advanced Concept Technology Demonstration, GAO/
NSIAD-00-78 (Washington, D.C.: April 25, 2000).

[13] GAO-03-598.

[14] U.S. General Accounting Office, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles: Medium 
Range System Components Do Not Fit, GAO/NSIAD-91-2 (Washington, D.C.: 
March 25, 1991).

[15] A surrogate manned aircraft is a conventional aircraft with 
unmanned controls that is being operated as a UAV with a pilot on board 
to override controls in the event of an emergency.

[16] U.S. General Accounting Office, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles: 
Questionable Basis for Revisions to Shadow 200 Acquisition Strategy, 
GAO/NSIAD-00-204 (Washington, D.C.: September 26, 2000).

[17] U.S. General Accounting Office, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles: DOD's 
Demonstration Approach Has Improved Project Outcomes, GAO/NSIAD-99-33 
(Washington, D.C.: August 30, 1999).

[18] U.S. General Accounting Office, Best Practices: Better Matching of 
Needs and Resources Will Lead to Better Weapon System Outcomes, 
GAO-01-288 (Washington, D.C.: March 8, 2001).

[19] GAO-03-598.