Cover: The Global Hawk Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Acquisition Process

The Global Hawk Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Acquisition Process

A Summary of Phase I Experience

Published 1997

by Geoffrey Sommer, Giles K. Smith, John Birkler, James Chiesa


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There is a long history of efforts to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the weapon acquisition process. The purpose of this case study is to understand how one such program, the High Altitude Endurance Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (HAE UAV), has benefited from certain changes from established acquisition procedures. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, in conjunction with the Defense Airborne Reconnaissance Office, is embarking on development of two UAVs: Tier II+ and Tier III-. The development programs incorporate many novel acquisition practices, including a rigid price cap for future production items, together with waivers of most acquisition-specific laws and policies. This study will examine how the various innovations in acquisition management methods affect the program outcomes and how the lessons of these projects might be applied to a wider variety of projects to improve Department of Defense acquisition strategies. The study was initiated in fiscal year 1994 and will continue through the first three phases of the program. A final report will be issued at the end, preceded by periodic interim reports. This is the first such interim report, covering Phase 1 of the Tier II+ segment of HAE UAV.

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