Industry sources are hopeful that the Department of the Navy could solidify its Small Tactical Unmanned Aircraft System/Tier II Unmanned Aircraft System (STUAS/Tier II UAS) program by Christmas. The latest RFP delay, announced in August, 2008 did not specify a new timetable, but industry fears a “slide to the right” of more than six months could mean a further deterioration of Initial Operational Capability, perhaps past 2013-14.
Concepts of operations (CONOPS) are at issue, as are the larger issues of a new presidential administration, DoD budget priorities and the evolving nature of the Global War on Terror. A major shift in multiples here could pull this competition in several directions. In terms of offerors, the trend toward “bigger than the last iteration” is unavoidable, with assumed platforms such as Boeing/Insitu’s Integrator (successor to Scan Eagle), Raytheon/Swift’s Killer Bee (4) and a further iteration of the AAI Aerosonde (Mk IV) mentioned as the usual suspects.
In our opinion, if requirements inputs from the Marine Corps and Navy can be “normed” without too much extraneous input from the Army or Air Force then a December, 2008 or January 2009 RFP is feasible. If more jointness is foisted upon STUAS/Tier II the system might do a number of things adequately at the expense of doing certain things superbly. In such a scenario the system might also be late to the party.
If the Department of the Navy can crystallize CONOPS andsystem requirements through this RFP it could serve as a model for more rapid capability insertion across several disciplines. At a time when persistent surveillance is at a premium G2 Solutions hopes STUAS/Tier II offerors have plenty of reading to do between Christmas and the New Year, in the form of a finalized RFP.