Innovative Development

Global Hawk and DarkStar - HAE UAV ACTD Program Description and Comparative Analysis

by Robert S. Leonard, Jeffrey A. Drezner

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The past three decades have seen a number of less-than-successful efforts to develop high-altitude unmanned aerial vehicles. In 1994, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, in conjunction with the Defense Airborne Reconnaissance Office, initiated an effort — designated the High-Altitude Endurance Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Advanced Concept Technology Demonstrator (HAE UAV ACTD) — whose goal was to facilitate the development of UAVs through the use of a new and innovative acquisition strategy. This report addresses the effect of that acquisition strategy on the flight test program of the two air vehicles: the conventional Global Hawk and the low-observable DarkStar. The authors found that because DarkStar was canceled after having logged only 6.5 flight hours, not enough flight experience was accumulated to allow for an understanding of the vehicle's flight characteristics or military utility. By contrast, Global Hawk accumulated ample experience to permit a demonstration of its military utility, achieving a level of performance that was close to predicted goals. The precise effect of the HAE UAV acquisition strategy remains the subject of debate. The strategy did, however, influence some key aspects of the flight test program, most notably its increased contractor involvement and its early operational testing in the form of user demonstrations. The flight test program also served to illustrate the vital need for early involvementof operational users to bolster the capabilities and perspective of the contractor.

Table of Contents

  • Preface PDF

  • Figures PDF

  • Tables PDF

  • Summary PDF

  • Acknowledgements

    Acknowledgments PDF

  • Acronyms PDF

  • Chapter One

    Introduction PDF

  • Chapter Two

    Program Description: The Plan and What Actually Happened PDF

  • Chapter Three

    One Requirement: Unit Flyaway Price PDF

  • Chapter Four

    Comparison to Other Systems PDF

  • Chapter Five

    Conclusions PDF

  • Appendix A

    Defining Program Phases and Content PDF

  • Appendix B

    Cost, Schedule, and Activity Content Changes by Phase and from Phase Start PDF

  • Appendix C

    Cost, Schedule, and Activity Content Changes by Program and from ACTD Start PDF

  • Appendix D

    Complete ACTD Cost and Schedule PDF

  • Bibliography PDF

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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.

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