Critical Read

A business model for drones

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What: The Defense Department's "Open Business Model for Unmanned Aircraft Systems Ground Control Stations," which provides acquisition professionals with a business framework for a common ground control station (GCS) for unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), with the goal of cutting costs while enhancing warfighter capabilities.

Why: The open business model for a common GCS is built on lessons learned from the Navy's open architecture methods for submarine acquisition. Those acquisitions, the report states, were done in a similar environment of emerging threats and declining budgets.

According to DOD, budget cuts and advances in IT offer an opportunity to rethink how it acquires, designs and builds unmanned systems. DOD's new acquisition model, made public in late February, adopts an open business model to support the implementation of an open architecture for UAS GCS. The Pentagon said it maintains a UAS portfolio of 11 programs of record across the armed services. It has six prime integrators that support UAS GCS.

Verbatim: "DOD will develop acquisition strategies across the UAS portfolio that are built on continuous competition and reuse of services within the GCS architecture. The goal is to create an environment where innovative technology providers and integrators -- both large and small -- can freely and openly participate in the competitions for a wide range of services or systems domains. There are two different integration models for UAS GCS: the contractor integration model in which the contractor serves as the integrator and the government integrator model in which the government acquires services from multiple contracts but serves as integrator for those services."

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About the Author

Mark Rockwell is a staff writer at FCW.

Before joining FCW, Rockwell was Washington correspondent for Government Security News, where he covered all aspects of homeland security from IT to detection dogs and border security. Over the last 25 years in Washington as a reporter, editor and correspondent, he has covered an increasingly wide array of high-tech issues for publications like Communications Week, Internet Week, Fiber Optics News, magazine and Wireless Week.

Rockwell received a Jesse H. Neal Award for his work covering telecommunications issues, and is a graduate of James Madison University.

Click here for previous articles by Rockwell. Contact him at or follow him on Twitter at @MRockwell4.

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