Aquila Remotely Piloted Vehicle:

Its Potential Battlefield Contribution Still in Doubt

NSIAD-88-19: Published: Oct 26, 1987. Publicly Released: Oct 26, 1987.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO evaluated the Army's Aquila Remotely Piloted Vehicle Program, focusing on operational testing which assessed the program's: (1) ability to accomplish its mission in its planned operational environment; (2) key characteristics such as reliability and maintainability; (3) readiness for production; and (4) 3-hour flight endurance capability.

GAO found that: (1) problems surfaced during operational testing regarding mission effectiveness, susceptibility to detection, reliability, and maintainability; (2) test and evaluation deficiencies made it difficult to assess the Aquila's performance in its intended operational environment; (3) the Army is still assessing the Aquila's 3-hour endurance capability; (4) the Army plans to improve performance and capabilities by correcting problems disclosed in testing and developing an infrared sensor to replace the television sensor used during operational testing; and (5) the Army plans to reassess only target detection capability before making a production decision, although other mission performance problems include frequent inability to launch the aircraft and survivability.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Congress deleted funds for the program in 1988 and directed that the Aquila be combined with other remotely piloted vehicles. Aquila received no funds in the fiscal year 1989 Department of Defense (DOD) budget.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Army should postpone production of the Aquila until the Army: (1) demonstrates, through selective testing against sound criteria in an operational environment, solutions to the key mission performance problems and other system deficiencies identified through a full assessment of operational test results; and (2) determines whether initiating production of the Aquila with the television sensor is warranted before the infrared sensor's successful development is certain.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Army


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