DOD tweaks acquisition strategies for unmanned systems

soldier launching drone (Army) 

The Defense Department is trying new acquisition strategies when it comes to unmanned aerial systems.

Kevin Fahey, the assistant secretary of defense for acquisition, said his office is trying to steer DOD away from the habit of developing new technologies and training requirements at the same time.

"We, to a large extent, have done urgent requirements and not a lot of programs of record to think through how do you train, how do you equip, how do you do the techniques and procedures, and how do you operate" across the services, Fahey said during Defense One's June 27 Tech Summit.

That's especially the case with unmanned aerial systems (UAS), which Fahey said were born as an urgent wartime requirement that the Defense Department is only now trying structure.

"Today, probably the biggest challenge is we come up with a unique technology and we're almost training as we're deploying it," Fahey said. "Part of the process is how do we institutionalize how do we get things to field, how do we train as we would with a combat vehicle or anything else across the services."

For now, the DOD's near-term goals are focused on developing a process that includes a near-annual evaluation of emerging technology available so "everyone can see the same stuff as we develop a common architecture on how we do UAS," Fahey said. Additionally, the office is looking at across-the-board doctrine and training.

Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment Ellen Lord first mentioned the meetings to reporters during a May news briefing.

"We noted that the services and some of the agencies -- rightly so -- were coming up with innovative solutions for Counter-UAS," she said. "The issue was we were concerned that learnings weren't always being shared and, down-range, different units weren't aware of all the choices they had."

The emphasis is on education and planning, understanding the available and fielded systems, threats, and needs, Lord said at the time.

About the Author

Lauren C. Williams is senior editor for FCW and Defense Systems, covering defense and cybersecurity.

Prior to joining FCW, Williams was the tech reporter for ThinkProgress, where she covered everything from internet culture to national security issues. In past positions, Williams covered health care, politics and crime for various publications, including The Seattle Times.

Williams graduated with a master's in journalism from the University of Maryland, College Park and a bachelor's in dietetics from the University of Delaware. She can be contacted at [email protected], or follow her on Twitter @lalaurenista.

Click here for previous articles by Wiliams.


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