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Director, Operational Test & Evaluation
FY97 Annual Report

FY97 Annual Report


Advanced Concept Technology Demonstration
14 Air Vehicles with sensors (mix of UAVs TBD)
3 Ground Control Elements systems
Total program cost (TY$) $949M
Average unit cost (TY$) $10M
(per Air Vehicle)
Full-rate production FY00

Prime Contractor
Teledyne Ryan Aeronautical
(Global Hawk)
Lockheed Martin-Boeing (Dark Star)
Raytheon E-Systems
(Ground Control Element)


The high altitude endurance unmanned aerial vehicle program will provide complementary air vehicles and a common ground station. The Global Hawk air vehicle is to provide high resolution Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) and Electro-Optical/Infrared (EO/IR) imagery at long range with long loiter times over target areas. The Dark Star will provide SAR or EO imagery at shorter ranges with less loiter time but with the capability to collect imagery within highly defended areas. The HAE UAV program is a long-term demonstration to satisfy broad area coverage and deep target surveillance and reconnaissance shortfalls. Used in conjunction with other manned and unmanned collection platforms, the HAE will act as a force multiplier. Potential missions for the HAE cover the spectrum of intelligence collection capability to support joint combatant forces in worldwide peace, crisis, and wartime operations; these systems will help the in-theater CINC achieve precision strike by providing information superiority.

Each HAE UAV system is composed of an air vehicle segment (consisting of air vehicles with sensor payloads, avionics and datalinks) a ground segment (consisting of a launch and recovery element (LRE) and a mission control element (MCE), with embedded ground communications equipment), a support element and trained personnel.

The Global Hawk air vehicle is optimized for long range and endurance; it should be capable of providing 24-hours on station at 3,000 nautical mile range from the launch site or an unrefueled ferry range in excess of 14,000 nautical miles. It has a wingspan of 116 feet and length of 44 feet and is powered by an Allison AE3007H turbojet engine providing speed of 0.6M and altitudes of 65,000 feet MSL.

The Dark Star is made of graphite composite for low weight and has a 69 foot span and 15 foot length. The air vehicle is powered by a Williams FJ44 turbojet engine providing speeds greater than 250 knots and altitudes up to 45,000 feet MSL. This air vehicle will carry either an EO or a SAR payload. (IR capability is not planned.)

Navigation of both air vehicles is via inertial navigation with integrated GPS updates. They are intended to operate autonomously and 'untethered' using a satellite datalink for sending sensor data from the aircraft to the MCE. Data rates up to 100 Mbps are expected via commercial satellites. The common datalink (CDL) may also be used when the UAV is operating within line-of-sight.

The ground segment consists of a MCE for mission planning, command and control, and image processing and dissemination; an LRE for controlling launch and recovery; and associated ground support equipment. By having separable elements in the ground segment, the MCE and LRE can be operated in geographically separated locations, and the MCE can be deployed with the supported command's primary exploitation site. The MCE is contained in a military shelter powered by two 90kW generators with two external Ku-band antennas for communication with the air vehicles


The HAE UAV program is an Advanced Concept Technology Demonstration (ACTD) program aimed at developing and demonstrating long dwell, high altitude tactical reconnaissance. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is executing the HAE programs for the Defense Airborne Reconnaissance Office (DARO). The Army, Navy, and Air Force are participating in the program, and the Air Force will be the executive agent for the final ACTD demonstration.

In 1996, the HAE program was designated a pre-Major Defense Acquisition Program (pre-MDAP) and was also designated for OT&E and DT&E oversight. A primary objective of the HAE UAV program is to obtain the maximum capability for a set, non-waiverable Unit Flyaway Price (UFP).


Subsystem functional checkouts continued on the Global Hawk air vehicle this year. These tests included compartment pressurization, hydraulic, vibration, environmental, and electromagnetic interference tests. System tests for the environmental control system, ice detection, air data, control surfaces and IFF were completed. The engine, landing gear, navigation system, and integrated mission management computer systems were also tested this year. Communication links between the air vehicle and ground control element were conducted. One air vehicle was disassembled and transferred to Edwards AFB. Reassemble, system functional checks, range integration checks, and taxi tests will occur leading up to a first flight in early FY98. Payload testing is planned aboard the Hughes A-3 testbed throughout the next year.

Activities this year for the Dark Star air vehicle focused on a nosegear redesign and installation on air vehicle number two following the crash of air vehicle number one in April 1996. System level testing continues with taxi/flight testing expected to resume in early FY98. SAR payload testing was completed last year, and the EO sensor was tested aboard a C-130 Pacer Coin this year.


Operational test events have yet to begin for either of these systems. Currently, the flight test working group is engaged in various stages of developing the flight profiles. The deployment and exercise working group is developing a demonstration plan to link actual ongoing exercises beginning January 1999. Both working groups are in the early planning stages and, although HAE UAV is in ACTD status, this office is striving to be fully engaged in the IPT process of demonstration and test development.

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