Unmanned Aerial Vehicles:

Performance of Short-Range System Still in Question

NSIAD-94-65: Published: Dec 15, 1993. Publicly Released: Jan 13, 1994.

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Louis J. Rodrigues
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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO evaluated the performance capability of the Short-Range Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV).

GAO found that: (1) the short-range UAV has failed to meet the relay requirements that control the aircraft during long-range operations; (2) the system has failed to meet the time standards for supporting artillery operations and transportability requirements; (3) the system's mechanical reliability is questionable; (4) the Department of Defense (DOD) has not evaluated UAV survivability or adequately tested the system's electromagnetic compatibility; (5) DOD conducted preproduction testing in an unrealistic environment and did not attempt to determine if the system could operate in a realistic hostile environment; (6) DOD has no assurance that military personnel will be able to maintain the UAV system; (7) DOD management of the UAV program is inconsistent with DOD policy for acquiring systems that meet user needs; and (8) DOD has approved low-rate production of UAV even though it has failed to meet established performance criteria.

Matter for Congressional Consideration

  1. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: In acting on the DOD FY 1995 budget request, Congress appropriated funds for continued production of the Short-Range UAV.

    Matter: Because of the significant performance deficiencies, inadequate testing, and DOD unwillingness to defer production decisions until the system functions properly, Congress should restrict the obligational authority for acquiring the Short-Range UAV until the Secretary of Defense certifies that the system meets all essential operational requirements.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: Although DOD stated that it concurred with GAO's recommendation, DOD still plans further production before performing the system testing that GAO recommended.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should require that an event-driven acquisition strategy be established and adhered to for the Short-Range UAV that includes demonstration of satisfactory performance in diverse, realistic operational environments before proceeding with further production.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense


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