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Director, Operational Test & Evaluation
FY97 Annual Report

FY97 Annual Report


Advanced Concept Technology
6 Systems
Total program cost: $200M
Average unit cost: $300K for 100th air vehicle (with payload)
Transition to production FY99
SEP production None

Prime Contractor
Alliant Techsystems (Hopkins, MN)


The Outrider Tactical Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (TUAV) system addresses the warfighters' need for a responsive capability to conduct near real time Reconnaissance, Surveillance, and Target Acquisition (RSTA) for lower echelon tactical units. The TUAV system is a dedicated asset for Army Divisions and Brigades, Marine Corps expeditionary brigades and Air-Ground Task Forces, and Navy ships; it is to deliver timely, accurate, and complete information out to 200 kilometers from its launch point. The TUAV will provide the tactical commander with information superiority contributing to the full-dimensional protection of his force and precision engagement of the enemy.

The Outrider TUAV is intended for use in environments where real-time information feedback is needed, manned aircraft are unavailable, or excessive risk or other conditions render the use of manned aircraft less than prudent. The Outrider TUAV system consists of four air vehicles with EO/IR payloads, one Ground Control Station, one Remote Video Terminal, and launch and recovery equipment. The entire TUAV system is required to fit in two HMMWVs and two trailers with personnel and supplies for 72 hours of operations. An additional HMMWV and trailer contains the mobile maintenance facility (MMF). There will be one MMF per three TUAV systems.

The air vehicle has dual wings that act independently to increase lift and allow for short takeoff and landing distances. The objective is for the air vehicle to takeoff from unimproved terrain or the 100-by-8-meter area of a flight deck. The modular airframe can be carried and assembled by two people.

The ground equipment includes a control station and data terminal, an automated launch and recovery system, and a remote video terminal. The control station is a UNIX based workstation for mission planning and monitoring. A separate workstation is used for viewing and exploiting mission video. The data terminal provides a C-band data link for transmitting data and imagery between the air vehicle and the ground control station. The remote video terminal receives video and telemetry from the ground station via a cable or directly from the air vehicle within 40 kilometers.


In conjunction with the cancellation of the Short-Range UAV program, Hunter, the Joint Requirements Oversight Council proposed the redesignation of the Close-Range UAV to an Advanced Concept Technology Demonstration. An ACTD program is designed to place a new system in the hands of the users for demonstration and evaluation during a typical two-year ACTD period. Fielding of this tactical UAV capability is the JROC's number one UAV priority. The JROC requirements for this tactical UAV combined the performance requirements for the Short Range and Close Range UAVs, but kept the cost cap of the Close Range UAV, which originated from a market survey in 1995 that was based on data collected during the Close Range UAV Technology Demonstrations in 1993.

The TUAV Acquisition Decision Memorandum was signed on December 21, 1995 and contained two basic requirements: for the selected system to come as close as possible to the JROC performance requirements and to cost no more than $350K (33rd air vehicle) and $300K (100th air vehicle). The selected contractor was allowed a six month period before the first flight of their UAV was required. In May 1996, the Joint Program Office awarded Alliant Techsystems a two-year contract to deliver six complete Outrider systems and spares. As an ACTD, no Test and Evaluation Master Plan is required, however, a military utility assessment (MUA) being developed by Army Operational Evaluation Command (OEC), the lead operational testing agency, in coordination with the Navy.

Government oversight of the TUAV ACTD is chaired by the DUSD(AT). Program reviews were conducted in February, April, and June 1997. At each review, the program has been required to demonstrate significant progress in order to continue, and the Services were also directed to develop separate acquisition strategies in case the Outrider is terminated. The Department has expressed continued support for the program and has requested funding to competed the ACTD. On December 15, 1997, the USD(A&T) approved a two month extension to the ACTD to conduct the Army military utility assessment. This effectively extends the ACTD to June 1998.


The first flight was required by November 1996. Technical problems precluded the first flight before March 1997. The proposed heavy fuel engine did not develop as expected, and a gasoline alternative of the heavy fuel engine did not demonstrate the required performance. Another gasoline engine, built by United Engine Limited, has been recently substituted This resulted in a sixty percent weight increase over the original proposal resulting in insufficient wing and fuselage length. Both were increased in the new prototype.

As of December 14, 1997, there have been 28 successful flights. The last 14 utilized the new engine and airframe prototype. During the 12th flight of Outrider, the engine experienced an un-command engine cut off causing the plane to crash. The emergency parachute deployed with minor damage to the airframe. Limited auto-pilot functionality has been tested during some of the flights. Full testing will begin in January 1998.

Tactics development for the Tactical UAV continue at Fort Hood using Hunter UAV assets. This unit also participated in the Army's Force XXI exercise using the Hunter as a surrogate for the Outrider. Beginning in December, this unit began training on Outrider along with personnel from the Marine Corps.

A UAV simulation environment was developed at the System Integration Lab (SIL) and has been used in exercises such as this year's Ulchi Focus Lens to assess TUAV tactics and procedures.


The ACTD period includes technical testing and Army exercises. Outrider is flying, however, it must still show suitability and effectiveness as a battlefield sensor. It is faced with the challenge of meeting both Army and maritime requirements while meeting strict production unit cost thresholds. The system still has a number of hurdles left to clear before these requirements can be answered. Besides full flight and landing under remote control, the Army still must conduct the military utility assessment (MUA). The MUA plan will collect and record data from field exercises in a common database for all Services. The military utility IPT will assess the degree to which the system provides the Army Brigade, USMC MAGTF, and Navy commanders with timely, accurate, and complete information in near-real time. The assessment will focus on reconnaissance, surveillance, and target acquisition operations, coverage of the commander's area of interest, and system sustainability. The assessment will also include life cycle costs, logistics support, manpower, training, and transition to production. The measures laid out in the assessment plan characterize system performance and help users determine its military utility. At the completion of the ACTD period, the Military Utility Integrated Product Team (IPT) will provide the assessment of military utility for the Joint Program Office. Work is ongoing to determine what to do next with Outrider, if the ACTD is successful.

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