Aquila Remotely Piloted Vehicle:

Recent Developments and Alternatives

NSIAD-86-41BR: Published: Jan 4, 1986. Publicly Released: Feb 13, 1986.

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Henry W. Connor
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In response to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Aquila Remotely Piloted Vehicle Program focusing on its technical problems, their effect on the program's cost, schedule, and management, and the Army's consideration of alternatives to the program.

GAO found that: (1) the program recently underwent a major restructuring in response to the technical problems revealed in testing; (2) the Army has questioned the value of the contractor's tests and estimates that it will run out of air vehicles before the operational test can be completed; (3) the program has experienced considerable cost growth and schedule delays stemming from technical problems, funding limitations, and expanded capabilities; and (4) while recent program actions will further increase costs, cost estimates are still under revision. Among the program changes were: (1) shifting program management from the Army's Aviation Systems Command to its Missile Command; (2) deferring the production decision pending the resolution of technical problems; and (3) making the contractor financially responsible for correction of the problems. GAO also found that, in a 1984 study of alternatives to the program, the Army did not consider taking steps toward a more balanced comparison, including studies of: (1) life-cycle costs; (2) the revised employment concept to determine which system would satisfy basic mission needs; and (3) future mission payloads.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: On October 26, 1987, GAO issued a report on the Aquila Program, NSIAD-88-19. This report discusses the performance requirements, as dictated by the new employment concept. The employment concept was officially approved for the Aquila, and will be reflected in future assessments of alternate systems.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Army should ensure that, in the event that the Aquila Program is terminated, an ensuing study of alternatives to satisfy the remotely piloted vehicle's basic mission takes into account not only the total life-cycle costs of candidate systems, but also any changes in performance requirements derived from the revised employment system.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Army

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Army established an Unmanned Air Vehicle Office to arrange future air vehicles and missions. This office has already begun to assess future requirements and will operate indefinitely.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Army should ensure that evaluation of candidate systems for future missions, which are now being explored, include total life-cycle costs and advantages of candidate systems, such as greater payload capacity and more endurance.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Army


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