Army Futures Leader Lt. Gen. Michael A. Vane Explains Vehicle Modernization Plans
(Source: Lexington Institute; issued December 6, 2010)
(© Lexington Institute; reproduced by permission)
The Lexington Institute has recently criticized Army plans for modernizing its tracked and wheeled vehicles. Lt. Gen. Michael A. Vane, a key leader in the development of Army plans for the future, sent Lexington the following comments explaining how vehicle modernization plans were developed. Lt. Gen. Vane is Deputy Commanding General of the Training and Doctrine Command for Futures, and Director of the Army Capabilities Integration Center. In those capacities, he plays a central role in designing the ground force of tomorrow.
The Army has a more coherent modernization strategy today than it had for much of the past decade. I have served in positions on the Army Staff and the Joint Staff where I participated in reviewing and forming the current strategy. The combat vehicle and network strategies are nearly complete, reflecting affordable, integrated plans linked directly to capability gaps in the present force. Tactical wheeled vehicle strategy is largely complete and will be finished shortly. Improvements to our existing fleet of Stryker, Paladin, Abrams and non-IFV Bradleys reflect the need to gain mobile armored protection; provide for growth in space, weight and power; and incrementally improve lethality, fuel efficiency and reliability.
The plan has been developed in considerable detail. It reflects a more or less flat budget and targets for platform costs in quantities driven by best estimates of the available supply of brigade combat teams to meet whatever national strategy evolves. Looking out at possible scenarios and strategies to reflect the range of possible alternate futures and operating environments, we have reversed the flawed approach of trying to optimize for any single possible future and put forth succinctly "what an Army must do" and how it must do it operationally -- combined arms maneuver and wide area security per our published and widely accepted concepts. This, along with existing overmatch in air and sea capabilities of joint forces, and our previous overmatch on land in major contingency operations, drives our need to maintain those capabilities and increase our ability to overmatch in hybrid and stability operations as well.
These operating environments are characterized not only by force on force, armored formations of nation states and operating through proxy, but increasingly, by non-state actors who operate in and among the people without uniforms or marked vehicles -- and who use niche capabilities like improvised explosive devices to attack our national will. This drives us to gaining overmatch and advantage for land operations by Army forces with versatile vehicles that can carry an entire squad to position of advantage and engage the enemy through direct influence, kill, capture or information exchanges. No other forces in the air or sea domains do this on the scale that the Army does.
Affordability arguments are always related to how much money one has and what the effect is on the operation. It is hard to argue that any force other than the Army (which includes Special Forces) does as much engagement with our friends and enemies and makes as much difference. So, $10 million [the projected cost of a next-generation Ground Combat Vehicle] for nine soldiers that actually engage the enemy directly in this conflict and nearly every conceivable conflict in the future is not a pretty good deal? It think it compares very favorably to a joint strike fighter, a littoral combat ship, or a submarine.
The size of the combat and tactical wheeled vehicle fleets remains fairly constant throughout all this, particularly with the operationalization of the reserve component. The size of the Army could be an issue in the future, but we are arguing hard to make our 547,000 soldier active-duty component and 1,100,000 soldier total force as effective and efficient as we can, and expect the resulting budget to be fairly flat. This leaves money, increased opportunity for investment, and a more coherent strategy than ever for our industry brethren.
That should give rise to a positive view for the industrial base and affordability questions, in my opinion. Acquisition changes that are occurring will mean more accountability, more real competition, and an increasing awareness of industry's need to change how it operates. [Industry needs to] get hungrier, perhaps, and pay more attention to global initiatives in other countries that are challenging areas where the United States had held a lead in technology development and innovation.
I look forward to continued engagement and dialogue. This is the only Army the Nation has, and it requires constant debate and support to help keep us pointed in the right directions.
A Defense Technology Blog
Army To Get Big FCS News Next Week
Posted by Paul McLeary at 1/6/2011 10:26 AM CST
Mark your calendars for next Wednesday, January 12. That’s when the Defense Acquisition Board (DAB) meets with the Army’s Early Infantry Brigade Combat Team (E-IBCT) shop to hash out what happens next with the communications and sensor gear formerly known as Future Combat Systems. Army officials say that they expect to make changes to the program after the meeting, but will have to wait for the final word from the DAB to say what they might be.
The equipment that survived Secretary Gates’ April 2009 slashing and burning of the program includes the Tactical and Urban Unattended Ground Sensors, the Class 1 Unmanned Aircraft System, the Small Unmanned Ground Vehicle and the Network Integration Kit. The equipment got a (tightly-controlled) real-world workout last year at Ft. Bliss, Tx. when soldiers from the Army Evaluation Task Force put these technologies through their paces in a series of face-offs between two small American-manned forward operating bases (complete with Afghan National Army soldiers) and two “Afghan villages” populated by soldiers playing locals who were sitting on hidden weapons caches, launching IED attacks, and trying to disrupt American operations.
One of the big lessons taken from the test cycle, Army officials tell ARES, is that the soldiers were more enamored with the battle command capability—connectivity and the ability to share information—than they were with the specific sensor technologies. “The emphasis on the connectivity,” says Paul Mehney of the US Army PEO Integration office, “is becoming the driving force of the strategy. It’s less reliance on sensors, more reliance on building capacity, brining a common operating environment in, and enhancing that battle command down to the soldier.”
In other words, they Army found that providing the connectivity is the most critical aspect of the modernization program, and once that is established, it can then find the most cost-effective communications tools to put in the hands of soldiers. Mehney said that moving forward, there is going to be “less focus” on the hardware, and “more focus on what that software, what the battle command is going to provide to the soldier.”
We will know more next week, but the significance of this shouldn’t be underplayed. By pushing the sensor gear out into the field it seems that the Army found that it might not need those specific sensors after all. The focus going forward is all about connectivity, and pushing information around the battlefield. Once those comms are established, it looks like the service will look to cheaper, mature, or even commercial off-the-shelf sensor and handheld technologies to replace the last vestiges of the Future Combat Systems hardware.
DOD Directs Army, Marine Drawdowns for 2015, 2016
(Source: US Department of Defense; issued Jan. 6, 2011)
WASHINGTON --- Budget pressures that have proven greater than anticipated mean the Defense Department will trim end strength in its ground forces beginning in four years, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said today.
“Under this plan, the U.S. Army's permanent active-duty end strength would decline by 27,000 troops, while the Marine Corps would decline by somewhere between [15,000] and 20,000, depending on the outcome of their force structure review,” Gates said.
The secretary and Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, spoke to reporters at the Pentagon on the results of defense efficiencies initiatives begun in May to trim support costs and ensure funding for military modernization.
“The projected reductions are based on an assumption that America's ground combat commitment in Afghanistan would be significantly reduced by the end of 2014, in accordance with the president's strategy,” Gates said. The Army also will lose the 22,000 troops it added in a temporary end-strength increase approved in July 2009, he added.
“Ever since taking this post, now more than four years ago, I have called for protecting force structure and for maintaining modest, but real, growth in the defense topline over the long term,” Gates said. “I would prefer that this continue to be the case, but this country's dire fiscal situation and the threat it poses to American influence and credibility around the world will only get worse unless the U.S. government … gets its finances in order.”
Gates said even after force reduction, both services would remain larger than they had been when he became secretary -- the Army almost 40,000 troops larger, and the Marine Corps anywhere from 7,000 to 12,000 troops larger.
Both services support the decision, the secretary said, noting Marine Corps leaders have spoken of trimming back the increases their force structure has seen in recent years.
“I think [the Marines] see this as … more of an organic process within the Marine Corps in terms of their priorities and their needs,” Gates said. “In the case of the Army, this is a situation where the Army is supportive of this decision. I think … that support derives from understanding the importance of this in terms of their other priorities, as well.”
Defense Department to Prune Senior Ranks, Freeze Staffing
(Source: US Department of Defense; issued Jan. 6, 2011)
WASHINGTON --- The Defense Department will reduce its senior ranks and freeze civilian staffing levels, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said today.
“The monetary savings from … reductions in senior personnel will be relatively modest, and mostly consist of the extra staff and amenities that, by tradition, follow high rank,” Gates said.
The secretary and Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, spoke to reporters at the Pentagon on the results of defense efficiencies initiatives begun in May to trim support costs and ensure funding for military modernization.
The primary purpose of reducing senior rank structure is “to create fewer, flatter, more agile -- and thus, more effective -- organizations,” Gates said.
In announcing the second set of initiatives in August, Gates said he would appoint a senior task force to assess the number of positions for general and flag officers and Senior Executive Service employees. As a result of that assessment, the department will eliminate more than 100 general officer and flag officer positions from the 900 it currently authorizes, the secretary said today.
“Of those, 28 are billets that were created after 9/11, primarily for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan,” Gates said. “They will be reduced as appropriate, as major troop deployments wind down.”
More than 80 other flag or general-officer positions spread among the services, the Defense Department and the combatant commands “will be eliminated or downgraded,” Gates said.
Defense will also eliminate nearly 200 of the 1,400 civilian positions from the department’s Senior Executive Service or equivalent positions, Gates said.
As the department prunes its senior ranks, it also will put a check on overall staff numbers by freezing the number of employees at current levels for the next three years, Gates said.
“Since the beginning of this fiscal year, which began Oct. 1, we've been operating under a freeze in the number of positions, with very limited exceptions … within the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the defense agencies and field activities and the combatant commands,” the secretary said.
Gates said he instructed those organizations to “conduct a clean-sheet review” to rebalance resources, staff and functions within and across their components to reflect the department's most pressing priorities.
“The resulting review produced a number of opportunities to trim the size of the work force, yielding more than $4 billion in savings over the next five years,” he said. “I will recommend to the president that we hold to these limits in overall DOD staff levels for the next three years.”
While new requirements may emerge that require further staff support, the secretary said, those needs should be met by shifting personnel from other, less important activities within the organization.
Army’s Blogging Big Brain Will Be New Chief of Staff
By Spencer Ackerman January 7, 2011 | 11:58 am | Categories: Army and Marines
Overshadowed in all the defense-budget news is that the Army’s current chief of bigthink will become its next overall leader. Meet Gen. Martin Dempsey, tapped by Defense Secretary Roberts Gates as the new Army Chief of Staff when George Casey retires in the spring. You may have seen him in the blogosphere.
If you’re a regular reader of Small Wars Journal, you’re familiar with Dempsey. From his perch atop the Army’s Training and Doctrine Command — which thinks through how the Army can learn from its mistakes and build on its successes — he’s frequently contributed his thoughts on Army modernization to the online counterinsurgency nerve center, and used SWJ as a sounding board. (And yes, we dinged him for his poor tweeting.)
A post from May 2009 shows one of the reasons Gates likes the guy. When the Army released its field manual on training foreign militaries, Dempsey explained that experience demonstrated officers need to train partner forces while fighting their own wars. “Under conditions of active conflict where we have direct responsibility for security — as in Iraq and Afghanistan,” he blogged, “tactical commanders will have a security force assistance mission to train, advise, and assist tactical host nation forces.”
With that post, Dempsey subtly pulled off three accomplishments. First, he institutionalized a lesson of Iraq and Afghanistan, where U.S. troops have arduously built new armies and police forces from scratch. Gates has predicted such security aid will be a core U.S. military job for years to come. Second, he rejected shunting security-assistance aid to a specialized corps within the Army, which might have relegated it to a backwater. (Not many officers joined the Army to become drill sergeants in foreign countries.)
And third, he wrote that security assistance has to accept that some populations “may not accept a large, visible U.S. military presence,” so it’d be best in those cases to partner with civilians or give the job to Special Forces. Tacitly, that divorced foreign-security training from any expectation that the Army will be in more intensive ground wars.
Dempsey’s perspective isn’t surprising when looking at his recent career experience. He ran the 1st Armored Division during the first wave of the Iraq occupation before returning in 2005 to supervise the training of Iraqi forces. It makes sense he’d propose blending security-assistance with warfighting while at TRADOC, as it’s known. Similarly, TRADOC’s big-think exercises under Dempsey have looked at other unconventional tasks, like building up Army officers’ diplomacy skills, that show Iraqi sand underneath their metaphorical fingernails.
Casey ran the Iraq war during its darkest days (and Dempsey worked for him for much of them), so it’s not like Dempsey represents the first wave of Iraq veterans rising to the top of Big Army. But Casey was kicked upstairs after the Iraq war went south. Dempsey took more of a monkey wrench to the war to see how to mitigate its errors, and brought that to the institutional Army.
Dempsey’s rise indicates that while the Army may leave Iraq this year, Iraq isn’t going to leave the Army. He’ll have to get the Army ready to shift into more of a peacetime posture — including a reduction in its size after his tenure – before Afghanistan “ends,” and ensure that the Army’s new ground vehicle and soldier networking programs don’t become the same costly failures that plagued it in the last decade. Hopefully, Dempsey will even keep blogging.
Expect Program Changes From U.S. Army Mod Review
By KATE BRANNEN
Published: 7 Jan 2011 16:20
Program changes are likely to result from the U.S. Army's Jan. 12 meeting with Pentagon acquisition chief Ashton Carter, who will help decide the fate of the Army's brigade combat team modernization program.
The Defense Acquisition Board review, originally scheduled for Dec. 22, was postponed two days before because of a schedule conflict.
"We do expect program changes and those changes will be based primarily on military utility and affordability of the systems," Army spokesman Paul Mehney said.
The equipment under scrutiny includes Tactical and Urban Unattended Ground Sensors, the Class 1 Unmanned Aircraft System, the Small Unmanned Ground Vehicle and the Network Integration Kit.......EDITED........
Read more: http://www.defensenews.com/story.php...56&c=AME&s=LAN
Gates May Cut At Least One Army Brigade from Europe
By Spencer Ackerman January 10, 2011 | 7:13 am
With Defense Secretary Robert Gates visiting China, all eyes are on the future of the U.S. military in the western Pacific. But back at the Pentagon, Gates’ office has begun eying shifts to its 60-year old posture in Europe, which the secretary believes is too large and brass-heavy. Danger Room is hearing that at least one Euro-based Army brigade is on the chopping block.
In his Thursday press conference, Gates called out U.S. European Command for hosting way too many cushy billets for senior officers, part his long-telegraphed effort to get rid of useless jobs for generals and admirals. The services’ top contributing officers in Europe will now be three-stars instead of four-stars, with their large support staffs reduced accordingly. But Gates only hinted about trimming what he called “clear… excess force structure” on a continent at peace.
According to what we’ve been able to learn since, here’s what’s up for review: at least one Army brigade. Seem like small beer? The Army has 42,000 soldiers stationed in Germany and Italy (currently scheduled to drop to 32,000 by 2014), including four brigade combat teams. Danger Room was waved off of expecting “major” troop reductions in the ballpark of tens of thousands. That will leave the military way invested in Europe, which doesn’t face any likely threat that U.S. ground forces would be required to deter or repel.
After killing the Marines’ landing craft and restructuring the Marine version of the F-35 jet, Gates evidently has little appetite for the kinds of deep cuts that the Bush administration made to U.S. force structure in Europe. His predecessor, Donald Rumsfeld, learned that pulling even token numbers of troops out of Europe invites panic in Washington and Brussels about how the U.S. isn’t committed to NATO anymore.
So while one brigade may be re-stationed in the U.S., Gates’ review is mostly focused on trimming the size of command and headquarters staffs, something Tom Ricks cheers on his blog. Unit composition is also being studied, so it’s possible that some units will transition back home while those with different functions or from different services may deploy to Europe. As the review process is just getting started, it doesn’t appear as if Gates has identified specific units for the shift.
Gates also hopes to sell the National Security Council, the State Department and the U.S. Mission to NATO on the force restructuring before taking it to the NATO council. The idea is to address European concerns about the plan before taking any steps to pull troops off the continent, so as to avoid a reprise of the public-diplomacy blunder that greeted the U.S.’s 2009 revisions to European missile defense.
The Pentagon has four years to get it right this time around. No actual changes in Euro force structure will happen before 2015, the same timetable Gates set for cutting the Army and Marine Corps by up to 47,000. Looks like the next Army chief of staff, Gen. Martin Dempsey, will be building a much different peacetime Army than many anticipated, even before the Afghanistan war ends.
U.S. Army to Buy Only 1 More Brigade Set of NIKs
By KATE BRANNEN
Published: 12 Jan 2011 19:14
Senior U.S. Army leaders on Jan. 12 received permission during a meeting with Pentagon acquisition chief Ashton Carter to buy one more brigade set of Network Integration Kits and two more sets of the Small Unmanned Ground Vehicle, according to sources.
Carter also approved the termination of the Class I Unmanned Aerial System and the Tactical and Urban Unattended Ground Sensors, a move expected after the Army issued a stop-work order to prime contractor Boeing on Jan. 6.
All of the gear was first developed for the Army's ambitious Future Combat Systems program, canceled in 2009. Since then, the equipment had become Increment 1 of the service's Early Infantry Brigade Combat Team program................EDITED.........
Read more: http://www.defensenews.com/story.php...14&c=AME&s=LAN
Army Exploring Emerging Technologies
(Source: US Army; issued Jan 13, 2011)
WASHINGTON --- The Army is exploring a wide range of cutting-edge technologies such as solar-powered battery chargers, digital mapping technology, alpine goggles with a head-mounted GPS display screen, handheld smartphones for the dismounted Soldier, and more discussed at the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Nev., Jan. 6-11.
"There is a very important role that technology plays for the Army," said Lt. Gen. Michael Vane, director of the Army Capabilities Integration Center at Fort Monroe, Va. "We are constantly and actively engaged with the scientific community to leverage the leading-edge technologies as well as innovate and develop new ideas," he told an audience of public and government attendees Jan. 6 at the show.
Vane explained that the Army is deeply immersed in identifying, developing and integrating the best emerging technologies able to help Soldiers in current and future conflicts.
"The new norm of digital and space literacy is a reflection of the technological advances that continue to facilitate the ways in which Soldiers access, acquire, move or process information on the modern battlefield," he said.
Vane's presentation at the show: "Connecting the 21st Century Soldier -- the Decisive Edge," broadly outlined some of the key trends expected to characterize conflict in coming years and the role of emerging technologies therein.
Central to this discussion was the need to harness new technologies and "network" the dismounted Soldier on the battlefield.
Also fundamental to the discussion was a description of the important blend of art and science required to execute Mission Command - the ways in which the future force must possess the ability to visualize, describe, direct and lead forces against a hostile, thinking and adaptive enemy, Vane explained. Mission Command involves the merging of a commander's professional judgment with the best available technologies.
Overall, the Consumer Electronics Show featured more than 140,000 attendees and 2,700 companies presenting new products and the promise of emerging technologies.
Twenty-two top industry CEOs provided keynote speeches including Microsoft's Steve Ballmer, Verizon's Ivan Seidenberg, Audi's Rupert Stadler, Samsung's Boo-Keun Yoon, Ford's Alan Mulally, Netflix's Reed Hastings, Cisco's John Chambers, Xerox's Ursula Burns and GE's Jeffrey Immelt.
In total, there were 250 different sessions at the CES. Also at the show, Ford unveiled its new electric car, the "Ford Focus Electric."
The CES provided occasion for Vane to meet with industry partners and explore potential military applications for a host of emerging technologies; in some cases, technologies on display closely resembled developmental efforts already underway within the Army.
For instance, the Army's Future Force Integration Directorate recently completed a pilot program at Fort Bliss, Texas, which explored a range of possible uses for smart-phone technology on the battlefield.
Referred to as Connecting Soldiers to Digital Applications, or CSDA, the pilot evaluated digital smart-phone technologies by placing them in a host of operational scenarios and vignettes designed to assess the value of sharing battle-relevant information in real time.
"CSDA is about leveraging existing technologies to connect individual soldiers. This has an application for the generating force and the operating force. We're looking at leveraging civilian technologies. The Army is a learning organization," said Rickey Smith, who directs the Army Capabilities Integration Center - Forward.
"Knowing where you are and where the enemy is are two essentials of any operation. Sharing information in real time is a valuable component of Mission Command."
Lockheed Gets Big Bucks to Prep Soldiers for Urban War
By Spencer Ackerman January 18, 2011 | 6:00 pm
By the end of the year, the U.S. Army will leave Iraq. But Iraq isn’t going to leave the U.S. Army.
American soldiers spent seven years patrolling the urban neighborhoods of Iraq; its troops battled insurgents there block-by-block and house-by-house. Now that the Army is getting out of Iraq, it wants to make sure its urban combat skills don’t wither away. So it today it gave Lockheed Martin a $287 million contract to build Urban Operations Training Systems — essentially, giant simulation facilities and modules to help soldiers get ready for life in the big, bad city.
Versions of those training systems can be as simple as shipping containers tricked out to resemble multi-story houses and arranged in village formations, so soldiers can practice how to seize a building without causing needless damage. The Army’s got an entire 1000-acre facility in Indiana it uses to train soldiers in urban combat.
The contract will include structures like those, which are known as Mobile Military Operations on Urban Terrain systems, or Mobile MOUTs. Lockheed says it’ll help soldiers drill on everything “from traditional war fighting tactics, to nation-building, to overseas contingency operations.” Overseas contingency operations is the new bureaucratic and budgetary term for what we used to call “wars.”
A statement from the company heralding the deal said that the new training systems were likely to include measures to simulate homemade bombs, an indicator that the Army doesn’t think the threat from the signature weapon of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars is likely to diminish. That in turn has implications for other stuff the Army wants to buy — especially the new Ground Combat Vehicle, the service’s next-generation transporter. The Army and the Marine Corps have faced criticism for buying so many armored Humvees and Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles, on the assumption that they’ll rot in the motor pool if troops don’t have to roll through terrain laced with homemade bombs in the future. That may not be a chance the Army wants to take.
Training isn’t destiny, and just because the Army wants to keep urban combat in its toolkit doesn’t mean it’s looking to go stomping through any foreign capitals. One of the Army’s biggest internal criticisms after find itself mired unexpectedly in Iraq was that its post-Vietnam officers deliberately unlearned how to fight insurgents. Look for the exact opposite to happen here: Army gadflies like Col. Gian Gentile of West Point warn that the Army’s assuming that unpredictable future land wars are going to look too much like today’s counterinsurgencies.
A different aspect to the urban-training scenario offered by Lockheed: “live, virtual and constructive mission domains,” the statement says. Whether that means, in part, videogame-based training remains to be seen. But at the Army’s recent annual conference in D.C., the service was showing off a sophisticated first-person-shooter modeled on eastern Afghanistan’s rugged, mountainous terrain. If Call of Duty can rig up an urban-warfare videogame, presumably one of the world’s largest defense companies can too.
Army Expanding UAS Fleet, Speeding Up Delivery
(Source: US Army; issued Jan. 18, 2010)
ARLINGTON, Va. --- The Army is speeding up delivery of some of its newer Unmanned Aircraft System assets such as the Gray Eagle and expanding the size and range of its overall fleet to include a Family of Small UAS and a Vertical-Take-Off-and-Landing UAS, service officials said.
"We're going to accelerate Gray Eagle yet again. We're accelerating from two systems per year to three systems per year, which will result in seventeen systems being procured by FY 2014," said Tim Owings, deputy project manager for Army Unmanned Aircraft Systems.
A Defense Acquisition Board in February of this year is expected to confirm the addition of two more Low Rate Initial Production Gray Eagle systems - each consisting of 12 air vehicles, five ground control stations and five additional attrition vehicles, Owings said.
TWO GRAY EAGLES DEPLOYED
The Army has already deployed two Gray Eagle "Quick Reaction Capabilities." One QRC is now flying with Army Soldiers in Iraq and another is with U.S. Special Operations Forces in Afghanistan, Owings said.
The 28-foot-long surveillance aircraft has a 56-foot wingspan and is able to beam images from up to 29,000 feet for more than 24 hours at a time.
The QRC Gray Eagle aircraft are equipped with a laser designator, Signals Intelligence capability and an Electro-Optical/Infrared camera designed to survey the ground below, track enemy movements and hone in on targets. They are also equipped to carry HELLFIRE missiles, Owings said.
"We did just complete the weaponization of QRC 1 in Iraq. We now have flown flights in Iraq with the full weapons suite. They will have to go through a safety certification process on a firing range before they are allowed to go live," Owings said.
The QRC concept is designed to bring needed technologies to the battlefield in advance of a formal program of record in order to sharpen requirements and get desired capability in the hands of Soldiers sooner.
The Gray Eagle program will also go through a configuration change which will allow the Army to divide the systems up into three platoon-sized elements, Owings said; this will allow the Army to keep some aircraft back in the United States for training purposes while keeping most of the systems forward-positioned in theater.
HUMMINGBIRD QRC PLANNED
The Army's Program Office for UAS is also planning a QRC for the A160 Hummingbird Vertical Take-Off and Landing, or VTOL UAS. It’s a 35-foot-long helicopter-like unmanned system able to conduct Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance or ISR missions and move cargo for more than 20 hours at altitude ceilings of up to 30,000 feet.
"We are currently outfitting an A160 with a Wide Area Surveillance payload and a SIGINT package. We intend to deploy a single A160 to Afghanistan later this year with two additional air vehicles now undergoing final integration for fielding in FY 12," Owings said. "The big advantage with the A160 is you get near fixed-wing endurance in a vertical-lift platform. That is something we have not seen before."
The first A160 aircraft was provided by the Defense Advance Research Project Agency. U.S Special Operations Command is providing the next two follow-on aircraft, Owings said.
The Army is also developing a formal requirement for a VTOL UAS designed to work in tandem with the A160 QRC, a process which will result in a formal competition and selection of a new capability, said Col. Rob Sova, capability manger for Unmanned Aircraft Systems, U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command.
"We are going to be directed to do a VTOL requirements document," Sova said. "A VTOL Capabilities Development Document is the phase prior to the final document.
We plan on doing a quick turn. We'll have that document done in the first half of the calendar year," he said.
The A160 QRC will inform the requirements process, however the Army's formal VTOL program, ultimately, may or may not involve the A160, Owings and Sova indicated.
"Even if we wind up picking something different, we are going to learn a tremendous amount with the QRC we are doing with the A160. When you get to
the field, you get a chance to vet things out and learn a lot on the materiel side," Owings said.
FAMILY OF SMALL UAS
The Army is also working on requirements for a Family of Small UAS – a process aided by the "Proof of Principle" deployment of several small UAS, including the Raven, Wasp and Puma.
The Wasp Micro Air Vehicle is a small 1.25-foot, one-pound hand-held UAS able to beam images back to a ground controller from ranges up to five kilometers. The Wasp can fly for up to 45 minutes, Sova said.
The Puma is a slightly larger UAS with a gimbaled camera. It can fly for 90 minutes. The Puma is 13 pounds and has a length of 4.6 feet and a wingspan of 9.2 feet; it can fly up to 500-feet in the air.
The Raven, a four-pound, four-foot long UAS, has been used in theater to provide security for convoys and Forward Operating Bases, Sova said.
Much like a QRC, the "Proof of Principle" for the small UAS is designed to get capability in Soldier hands and also sharpen the requirements needed for the formal program of record.
"The requirements document is done. It is called the Rucksack Portable UAS requirements document. It needs to be amended because we got an increase in demand for the numbers so we are working on the total numbers," said Sova.