The Predator ACTD

A Case Study for Transition Planning to the Formal Acquisition Process

by Michael R. Thirtle, Robert V. Johnson, John Birkler

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In June 1995, a new endurance unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) flew over Bosnia to surveil and provide all-weather reconnaissance and image-gathering in an operational (i.e., conflict) environment. Representing a new capability for the Department of Defense (DoD), this UAV also represented a departure from DoD's usual way of doing acquisition business. The study documented in this report was completed in support of RAND research on Advanced Concept Technology Demonstration (ACTD) programs for the Office of the Secretary of Defense. The effort was conducted from July until December 1996 and documents research on the Medium Altitude Endurance (MAE) Unmanned Aerial Vehicle ACTD program (also known as the Predator UAV). Specifically, RAND was tasked to examine two questions: (1) What were the overarching lessons learned from the Predator ACTD? and (2) Which lessons can be generalized and applied to other ACTD programs? In this analysis, the authors closely detail the Predator ACTD and also document the important demonstration and transition issues from the project that can be applied to other ACTDs. The intent of this work is to improve the ACTD process and the transition of ACTD programs to formal acquisition programs. This report should be of interest to those involved in acquisition, program offices, and ACTD programs.

The research described in this report was performed under the auspices of RAND's National Defense Research Institute.

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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