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Army UAS- A Turf Battle for Organic Capability

Written by on Monday, May 20th, 2013

As the war in Afghanistan winds down and we reflect upon the last decade of conflict in both Iraq and Afghanistan, there is one area that has seen exponential growth in usage and integration into the battlefield and that is with the Army’s Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) growth. What started out as minimal use of the Hunter UAS and part-time use of the Predator has grown to five different Army UAS and a multitude of sensor packages and capabilities.

At the beginning of Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) the U.S. Army had to submit a request to the U.S. Air Force for use of the Predator for tactical operations. The Air Force would then decide whether the request was significant enough to warrant the Predator’s time and if the Predator could support given their higher priority, sometimes strategic commitments. This prioritization frustrated the Army and they began to develop an organic UAS presence that relieved the Army from requesting support from another branch of the military. As expected, this change caused a “turf battle” between the Air Force and the Army and the Army was able to convince authorities that it’s tactical needs and support we’re not being met by the Predator.

With funding from order cialis 10mg wartime rapid fielding initiatives, the Army was able to acquire smaller UAVs to include the Raven and Puma which were used at the battalion levels and did not impose a threat to the Air Force’s UAS dominance in theater. The “turf battle” of Army UAS didn’t really begin in earnest until the Shadow and Gray Eagle began showing up on the horizon and caused the Air Force to stand-up and take notice, but it was too late, the Army had convinced enough folks in Congress and within the DOD that their organic UAS capability was necessary and funding needed to be continued to fully upgrade current systems and purchase more systems.

Given the budget concerns that burden the U.S. today, one of the few DOD programs that are actually growing in size and scope are the Army UAS programs. Specifically, the Army’s budget in April requested $550 million to acquire 15 new Gray Eagles, $122 million for upgrades to the Shadow and $11 million for the Raven. Time will tell whether the budgets will support the requests but it appears that the Army convinced the right folks and won the turf battle and apparently, the turf war as well.

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