Cover: Innovative Development

Innovative Development

Global Hawk and DarkStar: Their Advanced Concept Technology Demonstrator Program Experience, Executive Summary

by Jeffrey A. Drezner, Robert S. Leonard

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Abstract

In 1994, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and the Defense Airborne Reconnaissance Office launched a joint initiative with the goal to overcome the impediments that had hampered past unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) development. This effort — designated the High-Altitude Endurance Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Advanced Concept Technology Demonstration (HAE UAV ACTD) program — applied an innovative acquisition strategy to the development of two UAVs: one conventionally configured (Global Hawk) and the other with a low-observable configuration (DarkStar). The report summarizes the major research findings regarding the HAE UAV ACTD program's acquisition strategy. The authors conclude that despite DarkStar's cancellation — and despite overall program cost growth and schedule slippage in basic design and test of the two HAE UAV concepts, the ACTD program did accomplish its primary objective by successfully demonstrating the military utility of a UAV with a continuous, all-weather, wide-area surveillance capability. Although the program's single requirement — the unit flyaway price — was not met, it did promote cost consciousness while at the same time preventing the imposition of additional system capabilities during the basic system development. The authors found the program's use of Other Transaction Authority to lend considerable flexibility to the effort. While the program's designation as an ACTD imposed cost and schedule boundaries that constrained system development, it also provided a high degree of flexibility to adjust the program execution. Areas of risk were addressed as they arose, and early flight test experience was assimilated into continuing system development efforts. Relatively modest changes in up-front planning processes, the structured participation of operational users early in the program, and contract language regarding oversight processes and incentives would ensure successful application of the acquisition strategy to a broader range of systems.

Table of Contents

  • Preface PDF

  • Figures PDF

  • Tables PDF

  • Acknowledgements

    Acknowledgments PDF

  • Acronyms PDF

  • Chapter One

    Introduction and Overview PDF

  • Chapter Two

    HAE UAV Program Execution and Outcomes PDF

  • Chapter Three

    Comparison to Other Programs PDF

  • Chapter Four

    Lessons and Recommendations PDF

  • Bibliography PDF

  • Other Program Documentation PDF

Research conducted by

The research described in this report was performed under the auspices of RAND's Project AIR FORCE unit.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation monograph report series. The monograph/report was a product of the RAND Corporation from 1993 to 2003. RAND monograph/reports presented major research findings that addressed the challenges facing the public and private sectors. They included executive summaries, technical documentation, and synthesis pieces.

The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.