In a new report, the Government Accountability Office outlines the benefits of an open-system approach to UAV development. (GAO)
The Pentagon’s open-systems approach toward UAV development has great potential but lacks adequate oversight, according to a new Government Accountability Office report.
Open systems offer cost savings over proprietary equipment, in part because open systems are designed to accommodate payloads and upgrades from a variety of manufacturers. But “DOD is not tracking the extent to which programs are implementing this approach or if programs have the requisite expertise to implement the approach,” the GAO said.
The Navy has been the most enthusiastic proponent of open-system UAVs, with three of its four current or planned aircraft using the concept.
“Navy and contractor officials expect the Small Tactical UAS to be able to integrate at least 32 payloads developed by 24 manufacturers, some in a matter of days or months rather than years as previous programs experienced,” the GAO said.
In contrast, no Army or Air Force UAVs used open systems at the onset, though both services are beginning to implement them for existing aircraft and ground stations.
The GAO recommends that the Army and Air Force implement open systems policies, and that the Defense Department develop metrics to track open-system implementation.