Magazine article Army

Holistic Approach Underway for Unmanned Aircraft Systems

Magazine article Army

Holistic Approach Underway for Unmanned Aircraft Systems

Article excerpt

* Although retired Col. Michael A. Hamilton's April article ("Is Smaller Better With Army Air?") had some salient points with reference to the state of Army small unmanned aircraft systems, his thesis of the lack of advocacy, doctrine and expertise from both the Aviation and Maneuver Centers of Excellence lacks critical facts and is simply without merit.

Omitted in the article is the fact that the Aviation and the Maneuver Centers of Excellence have a strategy to implement the approved Rucksack Portable Unmanned Aircraft System Capabilities Production Document. The document provides the Army a family of three small unmanned aircraft systems, which will answer the requirements to increase soldier agility, lethality and survivability on today's and tomorrow's battlefields.

The document not only outlines three classes of small unmanned aircraft systems to provide an optimized basis of issue by organization type to a range of users, but it also defines the requirements for the universal TOGA (Tactical Open Government Architecture) controller. This is designed to decrease training time, reduce cognitive loading on the soldier, and allow for more flexible and responsive procurement for air vehicles and payloads.

To date, the Army has made a $5.7 million investment for the TOGA controller and plans to ready the capability for production by the end of fiscal year 2017 with an additional $1.8 million. Future investment strategy is to purchase an initial 1,065 controllers.

The author's claim of the lack of aviation use or expertise as a factor in the decision to not fund small unmanned aircraft systems is also untrue. The current fiscal environment brought on by the Budget Control Act requires the Department of the Army to make tough choices and prioritize all program resources based on assessed gaps and needs.

The Army made a decision that the current small unmanned aircraft systems with targeted capability improvements were good enough in the near term. …

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