Unmanned Aerial Vehicles:

Outrider Demonstrations Will Be Inadequate to Justify Further Production

NSIAD-97-153: Published: Sep 23, 1997. Publicly Released: Sep 23, 1997.

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Louis J. Rodrigues
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GAO reviewed the Department of Defense's (DOD) acquisition of the Outrider, an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) system, through a streamlined acquisition process known as the Advanced Concept Technology Demonstration (ACTD), focusing on whether: (1) DOD is applying lessons learned from prior UAV programs to the Outrider; and (2) the Outrider is likely to meet user needs.

GAO noted that: (1) DOD is not applying lessons learned from prior UAV programs to the Outrider ACTD; (2) for example, despite problems with the Pioneer and Hunter stemming from DOD's decision to award further production contracts without conducting operational testing or demonstrating that the system is user-supportable, DOD is pursuing the same strategy for the Outrider; (3) in addition, DOD has underestimated, as it did for the Pioneer and Hunter programs, the time and effort necessary to integrate nondevelopmental items into Outrider; (4) moreover, the Outrider system may not satisfy user needs unless problems associated with meeting joint requirements are resolved and interoperability with other DOD systems is ensured; and (5) consequently, DOD will not have assurance that the Outrider will meet user needs by the time of the planned fiscal year 1998 low-rate production decision.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Congress zeroed the fiscal year 1998 production funds that DOD had budgeted for further Outrider production.

    Recommendation: Because DOD's strategy for acquiring the nondevelopmental Outrider system will not provide assurance of successful performance and interoperability before DOD's planned low-rate production decision, and to avoid repeating the mistakes of prior UAV programs, the Secretary of Defense should delay low-rate production of the Outrider system until the results of operational testing of available systems demonstrate it is potentially operationally effective and operationally suitable for all intended users.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense


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