Unmanned Aerial Vehicles:

Questionable Basis for Revisions to Shadow 200 Acquisition Strategy

NSIAD-00-204: Published: Sep 26, 2000. Publicly Released: Sep 26, 2000.

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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 2001 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 Amry 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.

Matter for Congressional Consideration

  1. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: Congress has continued to provide funding for additional Shadow 200 procurement, and has not directed the Army to change its procurement plans.

    Matter: If the Army does not implement GAO's recommendation, Congress may wish to consider directing the Army to do so.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: Despite continuing to discover technical issues during operational testing, the Army has continued to procure additional Shadow 200 unmanned aerial vehicles.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Army not to exercise the option to 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.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense


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