The Unmanned

By Dan Dupont / January 25, 2010 at 5:00 AM

The latest issue of the Army AL&T Magazine, put out by the office of the assistant secretary for acquisition, logistics and technology, focuses a bit on unmanned systems, and the service's acquisition executive, Dean Popps, summarizes neatly where the Army has come in a very short time frame on unpiloted aircraft:

The Army UAS story is a recent one. In 1999, a single Hunter system was sent to support U.S. troops in the Balkans, becoming the first Army UAS to support real-world operations. A year later, the UAS PO consisted of 70 people with an annual budget of $60 million. Today, the PO manages more than $1 billion annually with more than 1,100 unmanned aircraft in support of Operations Enduring and Iraqi Freedom (OEF/OIF), and this demand for unmanned systems is continually increasing. It took the Army more than a decade to fly 100,000 UAS hours. It took us less than 1 year to fly the next 100,000 hours, and we fly more than that each year in theater. These systems operate 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, with multiple aircraft in the same unit operating simultaneously.

Two of the featured stories deal with that UAS office -- and one in particular highlights the Army's work on manned/unmanned (MUM) teaming, a big deal for the service and an increasingly bigger one going forward.