Unmanned Aerial Vehicles:

Medium Range System Components Do Not Fit

NSIAD-91-2: Published: Mar 25, 1991. Publicly Released: Apr 4, 1991.

Additional Materials:


Louis J. Rodrigues
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Office of Public Affairs
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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the status of the joint-service Medium-Range Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) program and the effects of the Advance Tactical Air Reconnaissance System (ATARS) and the Joint Service Imagery Processing System in determining why the ATARS payload would not fit in Medium-Range UAV.

GAO found that: (1) in developing Medium-Range UAV for common service, the Department of Defense (DOD) found that the ATARS payload did not fit in UAV; (2) the program goals of having a common service UAV, reconnaissance payload, and imagery processing system for UAV and manned aircraft could be undermined if the ATARS payload problem goes unsolved; (3) an alternative payload planned by the Navy would not meet Air Force requirements and would not be compatible with the Joint Services Imagery Processing System; (4) the Air Force's failure to coordinate adequately with the Medium-Range UAV Program Office and control the size of the reconnaissance payload resulted in the ATARS payload fit problem; and (5) the UAV program encountered other problems, including airframe structural deterioration, launch system unreliability, ocean recovery, an inaccurate navigation system, and other problems.

Matter for Congressional Consideration

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Congress funded the Medium-Range UAV Program, but stressed to DOD the importance of achieving commonality in UAV programs.

    Matter: Congress should closely monitor DOD efforts to solve the problem and oppose any funding requests which do not preserve commonality goals.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Medium-Range UAV was redesigned to accommodate ATARS and thus preserve commonality goals. An accomplishment report will be prepared.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should ensure that the solution to the payload fit problem preserves the commonality goals of the Medium-Range UAV, ATARS, and Joint Services Imagery Processing System programs.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The new DOD instruction requires that the lead DOD component developing an item create mutual agreements and procedures for the configuration management of an item.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should require the services to obtain advance written concurrence or nonconcurrence for proposed changes in separately developed interrelated programs from program offices to ensure that integration problems such as the Medium-Range UAV/ATARS fit problem do not occur in future programs.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense


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