(Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) Roadmap Report. Also Participating: Maj. Jim McCormick with the Office of the ASD (C3I).)
Staff: Good morning. This morning we have Mr. Dyke Weatherington, the deputy to the UAV Planning Task Force. He's here to discuss the recent release of the UAV Roadmap, which lays out the development and use of unmanned aerial vehicles and unmanned air combat vehicles over the next 25 years. The electronic version of the roadmap is on the DOD website, and it's listed in your press advisory.
Also, Air Combat Command at Langley Air Force Base in Hampton, Virginia, would be happy to make every attempt to arrange interviews for the media with UAV pilots who are available. If you'll see Cheryl Irwin in the press office after the briefing, she'll be happy to give you the phone number for that.
I will now turn the podium over to you.
Weatherington: Good morning. I'm Dyke Weatherington, deputy, Office of the Secretary of Defense, Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Planning Task Force. And today I have the privilege of announcing the release of the department's 2002 Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Roadmap. And as you've heard, you've been given the website and URL where that's located.
This document will help guide the department, services and agencies in the development and use of unmanned aerial vehicles and unmanned combat aerial vehicles for the next 25 years. Today I'd like to provide you a short summary of the contents of the roadmap, how it was developed, and some of the key highlights. I'll then open it up for questions. But before I start, I would like to thank the many individuals from the services, agencies, joint staff and commands that helped write this document. This roadmap would not have been possible without their hard work and commitment.
I'd now like to take a few minutes and walk you through the roadmap. The overarching goal of this roadmap is to define the clear direction to the services and agencies for the logical, systematic migration of mission capabilities to a new class of tools for the military toolbox; namely, UAVs.
The specific purpose of this document is threefold. First, to help provide senior decision-makers options in the development of broad strategies that will define future DOD force structure. In this regard, the roadmap identifies those near-term mission areas that can be impacted significantly by emerging UAV technology. We want to address the most urgent mission needs that can be supported both technologically and operationally by the various unmanned air vehicles and unmanned combat air vehicle systems.
Some mission areas are well supported by current capabilities inherent in fielded or near-term systems. An example of this might be our transport capability, where the C-17, in combination with other fielded systems, provides the required capability to our war fighters.
In other missions -- in other mission areas, however, there is need for additional capability, and several of these mission areas present high risk to our air crews. These are the mission areas that the UAV Roadmap will focus both in technology and systems development.
The second goal of the roadmap is to help with the resource allocation process, in concert with the Defense Planning Guidance. While there many potential development options the department may choose to invest in, the roadmap provides those high-priority investments necessary to move UAV capability to the mainstream.
Many of you have written articles on a variety of UAV systems, technologies, vehicles and capabilities. And in many respects, it seems that new UAV systems and concepts are popping up daily, and in many cases this is true. The potential value UAVs offer range across virtually every mission area and capability of interest to DOD. At the same time, a systematic, logical method to migrate UAV capability will help maintain focus for the delivery of that capability to the war fighter and help organize the use of limited DOD resources.
Finally, the roadmap is a guide to our industry and allies, identifying the highest value areas for independent investment and areas for international cooperation. While our industry partners have and certainly will continue to show innovation, a little help from the government identifying key areas for improvement will aid in focusing industry attention.
This roadmap is a living document. We will update it as technology and programs mature, and as DOD continues to transform.
I will now be happy to take a few questions from you. Yes, ma'am?
Q: Could you highlight for us what some of those near-term missions are and what you achieve in migrating here?
Weatherington: Well, certainly UAVs have demonstrated a capability in that mission area we typically call ISR, intelligence, reconnaissance and surveillance. And you're all very familiar with the current capabilities that our fielded UAV systems are providing. Other mission areas that have high interest from the department and the services' perspective are the capabilities inherent in those systems that are being demonstrated by DARPA [Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency] the combat UAV systems. So in general, those encompass SEAD/strike/electronic airborne attack -- generally, those class and mission areas where successful demonstration of those missions puts our aircrews at risk.
Q: So comparing now to 25 years down the line, where do you see the mix being between air breathers -- between, I'm sorry, piloted vehicles and UAVs? Do you see it becoming 50-50, 90-10?
Weatherington: That's an excellent question. I certainly can't answer that.
Q: Is that not -- (inaudible)?
Weatherington: As I identified, what the real focus of the roadmap is is to identify those key technology areas that we think are right for investment, provide the investment in those areas, then provide options for decision makers when those capabilities are demonstrated. As you know, we have not demonstrated capabilities in SEAD [suppression of enemy air defenses]/strike/AEA [Airborne Electronic Attack] except in a very limited sense with Predator. But certainly, as those programs progress, as we demonstrate capability, then that provides options for our senior decision makers. And that's the real key here, is providing options.
Q: How about the main barriers to development and use of the UAVs, either technologically or operationally?
Weatherington: The roadmap defines those areas that we think we have pretty well in hand. It also identifies areas where we require future work. Certainly, airspace integration is an area that will require additional effort. We have a variety of programs ongoing, but the successful integration of unmanned aerial vehicles into the airspace, both the military airspace with other manned systems and the civilian airspace, we believe is key to enabling the full capabilities that UAVs promise to provide. So, airspace integration is one of those.
Certainly, the weaponization aspect of UAVs needs additional effort, and frankly, that's what the challenge that DARPA has taken on in the UCAV programs. And so that --
Q: Why is that? I mean, could you explain why weaponization is a problem? Is it a matter of weight, use --
Weatherington: Fundamentally, it -- well, there are a number of aspects. And one of those aspects is positive control of the weapons. When you remove a human from the aircraft and you move that functionality for weapons control somewhere else, that requires an additional burden on the system to make sure you're maintaining positive control. And so, the incorporation of that capability into the UCAV program, for example, is one that demands rigorous demonstration and evaluation to support the eventual migration of that capability to war fight.
Q: There's a section in the roadmap that discusses reliability, and there's been a lot of talk among UAV folks about expendability versus attritability of vehicles. Can you talk to me about at what point vehicles shouldn't be attritable, they should be expendable, and the reverse?
Weatherington: Good question. When we remove the human from the vehicle, we open up a range of possibilities that was never possible when we had humans on board. Obviously, if we have aircrews on board, we must protect that system. And as you're familiar with, we protect that in a number of ways. We can operate those systems out of harm's way in a stand-off role, and that protects the system. We can also add technologies and capabilities to those systems, which allow them to operate in the threat rings of various systems to provide protection. A third option that we have with unmanned systems is we can choose, when appropriate, to design them so they are expendable or attritable. That is a range of capabilities that is a function of the mission and the need that the specific war fighter has. So to draw an arbitrary line across the continuum of UAV systems and say systems above this threshold are non-attritable and systems below that are attritable is, in my opinion, overly simplistic. What it provides us is a range of capabilities based on the threat, to allow that system to go into harm's way, and if the war fighter so chooses, to use it as an expendable asset.
Now, certainly, with the high cost systems, we wouldn't expect to do that. But again, that is an option that we have with any unmanned system.
Q: So what -- is it a case by case basis, then?
Q: You've said all along how important it is to demonstrate the UAV's capability in terms someone could understand very plainly. How important is it going to be if there is some operation in Iraq? How important a role would these UAVs play? What sort of role would they be doing in terms of using weapons? But just very generally explain to the average American person what this would mean in any possible immediate upcoming actions.
Weatherington: First, let me say the purpose of this press conference is to announce the roadmap.
Q: But since it's to demonstrate also the use of UAVs, this might provide an upcoming theater to showcase the UAVs.
Weatherington: Fundamentally for these systems, these UAV and UCAV systems to migrate and be used by the warfighter, he has to have confidence that when called upon to do a specific mission, they are reliable and effective to do that mission. That is fundamentally what the demonstrations support. Additionally, he's got to be confident that he can integrate those assets in with the other assets, the other tools he has, to conduct military operations. It is not enough just to demonstrate that a system can go out and do a specific mission. He's got to have confidence that that integrates in with the hundred other systems that he also has to manage. That is why OSD is so concerned and aggressive in the demonstration of these range of capabilities in real-world operational assessments.
Q: Okay. What is the range that one might see upcoming in Iraq? In other words, unmanned drones firing weapons? I mean, what range might they possibly demonstrate soon?
Weatherington: I probably will not provide you an answer that satisfies you. In general, I will tell you that there are a number of UAV systems that are currently deployed supporting operations around the world, and that includes Iraq. We have more unmanned systems today supporting the warfighter than we ever have before.
Q: How many?
Weatherington: I would prefer not to say an exact number, but in general I will say every service has a number of systems deployed today. You're familiar with Predator and Global Hawk for the Air Force; Army has Shadow and Hunter deployed; Marine Corps has Pioneer and Dragon Eye deployed; and there are a number of other systems that I won't identify specifically that are deployed. But --
Q: (Off mike.)
Weatherington: I just won't -- this isn't --
Q: I mean, is there some kind of operational security -- (inaudible)
Weatherington: I'm just not going to identify those specifically.
Q: But that doesn't -- for the average person, what would they be expecting to see, just in general terms? I'm not asking for specifics, but in general terms, we would see what?
Weatherington: In general terms, the missions that those UAV systems I just described are supporting those mission areas. So intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance; for Predator, armed reconnaissance has been demonstrated in other theaters.
Q: Oh, well, we --
Q: Weapons? Firing weapons?
Weatherington: I won't comment on that specific mission area.
Q: But firing weapons, I mean using them to fire weapons?
Weatherington: The previous demonstrated capabilities, I think you're speaking directly for Predator, are currently a capability that is available to the war fighter. How he chooses to employ those capabilities is up to him.
Q: How about those used to simulate cruise missiles or incoming aircraft like Chukar? Can you talk about that at all?
Weatherington: I'm not sure I understand the question.
Q: He's talking about BQM-74s [Chukar].
Q: Thank you! (Laughter.)
Weatherington: No, I would prefer not to discuss that topic.
Q: Sir on the -- just tagging on to the answer that you gave a couple of questions ago about trying to make sure that your roadmap has addressed interoperability and weapons needs and ISR [intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance] needs, requirements, across service boundaries, what has the Pentagon done recently about establishing a joint program office that would organize and follow the dictates of the roadmap and try to keep everybody on the same page, since there are so many different programs and so many different players in this game? Have you established a joint program office, and if so, where -- where will that be, and who runs it?
Weatherington: Excellent question. The first part of your question on interoperability, I would like to introduce Major Jim McCormick. Jim is in the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Command, Control, Communication and Intelligence [C3I]. Jim is a co-lead with Joint Forces Command on a relatively newly established UAV Interoperability Working Group that is specifically working those interoperability issues that cross service boundaries.
As you may be aware, if you have not seen the roadmap yet, we specifically have added an appendix exclusively on standards that support interoperability. From the department's perspective, the increased use of UAVs provides us an excellent opportunity to build in interoperability into these systems rather than going back and trying to add it later, which is problematic.
Jim's working group is attacking those fundamental issues that will allow us to do air-space integration, enable broader use of UAV systems to a broader user base than we typically have today. And so certainly that is one example of the department's commitment in working interoperability for UAV systems.
The second part of your question, on joint program office -- you're probably aware the department is working aggressively the establishment of a joint program office for combat -- unmanned combat aerial vehicles that would integrate Air Force and Navy requirements into a joint office. We're early in the development phase of that office. I can't give you any specific details on that.
But again, I believe the department has identified the high utility that a joint service solution would provide to both Air Force and Navy requirements. And I will also mention that we believe there is probably some utility for the Army in that organizational structure also, and so we've invited the Army to support the development of a concept that would ultimately result in a joint program office.
Q: Is there a debate about which service should take the lead? Is that part of the discussion that you're dealing with now?
Weatherington: As with any new program, there's always debate. I believe the department has that well in hand. And again, we're working through that. We're making sure that each of the services are fully engaged in the development of that program office and bring their attributes and talents forward to the -- in the development of that -- in the organization.
Q: Following on to that, can you give us an update on where -- the demonstration efforts that DARPA is doing with the Navy and with the Air Force? At the moment, they're separate demonstrations. Will they go ahead, and do they dovetail at some stage downstream?
Weatherington: You're probably very familiar with the recent success of the DARPA Air Force UCAV program -- just flew, I believe, its 14th flight, very successfully.
Northrop Grumman's Pegasus air vehicle flew last month -- again, short flight, but very -- we believe, a very successful demonstration. Certainly those two demonstrations kind of lay the foundation for the eventual incorporation of those and full capability into a joint program office.
As I indicated before, we're working through the specifics of how that happens, how those individual programs merge into a joint program office. I really can't be any more specific than that at this time. But certainly they are a key component in the eventual incorporation of those talents, those capabilities that would encompass the range of mission areas that those demonstrators have started to demonstrate.
Q: (Off mike) -- demonstrating, which was the X-45A, which would lead into the B. My understanding is, you basically told these guys, "Get on with the C," which is a bigger and longer-range vehicle. Is that correct?
Weatherington: In short, yes, that is correct. In fact, we mentioned the X-45C in the Roadmap, in the section defining UCAV. We are laying out the general characteristics for that system. We believe that gets closer to a vehicle or a family of vehicles that might support both Air Force and Navy requirements. But again, that --
Q: (Off mike.)
Weatherington: -- X-45C is simply a demonstrator.
Q: (Off mike.) I mean, the Navy at this stage isn't required to commit and buy into 45, it can still go ahead with its own demonstration and make a decision on the best type of vehicle for the Navy's use from --
Let's get one from the back. Yes, sir.
Q: The X-45C. Is that -- the rumor has been that that's going to be much bigger so it can fulfill the outstanding Air Force requirement for penetrating reconnaissance aircraft or strike aircraft. Is that the way you see it?
Weatherington: The current design of the X-45C is somewhat larger than the design of the B. Both services expressed a concern that the capabilities inherent in a B-like vehicle were not sufficient to demonstrate -- and I want to emphasize the word "demonstrate" -- the capabilities that a service might eventually want to procure an unmanned combat air vehicle to do that. So through a process including both Air Force and Navy and the department and DARPA -- DARPA's got a large role in this also, obviously -- we have determined that an X-45C is the next logical step in the progression of those air vehicle characteristics that enable some future missions. And, you know, I'm being rather vague on what specific missions those would be, because to a large degree those are driven by war fighter requirements.
Q: Well, maybe not an endurance penetrator, but on the road to an endurance penetrator?
Weatherington: Again, that is to a large degree war fighter requirements. I will say that there are a number of mission areas, specific mission requirements that a vehicle in the class of the X-45C we believe could support.
Q: Can you give us a sense about how far this program has come in the last 10 years? Specifically, how many more UAV programs or aircraft are available today compared to '91?
Weatherington: In 1991 the armed forces of the United States deployed Pioneer in support of Desert Storm. Today, as I mentioned before, we have in excess of eight different types of UAV systems supporting the warfighter.
The roadmap states that we have about 90 deployed systems in the field. That doesn't really count some small UAV systems that really have some niche capabilities. They're procured in relatively small numbers, so we didn't include those. But we have about 90 systems.
Clearly, Operation Enduring Freedom demonstrated some key attributes that UAV systems can provide that are difficult to garner from manned systems. Certainly persistence, as has been demonstrated by Predator and Global Hawk, is a key attribute that our current state-of-the-art UAVs have demonstrated. The department believes the next step in that migration is a demonstration of real combat capability through vehicles like the UCAV programs that -- for both the Air Force and the Navy. You know, while we can't estimate what in the next five years the force distribution might look like, certainly the range of options, the range of potential capabilities that UAV systems seem to support is fairly large.
Let me also say that there are clearly some mission areas that UAVs do not appear now suited to support. From a dynamic technology perspective, missions like air-to-air don't seem to be supported by capabilities resonant today or in the next five years. So the department -- and I don't believe the services would support a statement like, you know, "UAVs are going to support 90 percent of the current manned force structure." But we do believe there are plenty of mission areas that need support, and the attributes that those mission areas need seem to fit well with the capabilities that UAVs provide.
Q: Yeah, how does the roadmap, if at all, address the question of defense against UAVs in the future as potential enemies start developing this technology?
Weatherington: Obviously, that's a somewhat sensitive area. You would imagine that organizations and countries that have a robust offensive UAV capability would be familiar with the techniques and capabilities needed to defend themselves from those equivalent kinds of systems, and that's about all I'll say.
Yes, sir? In the back.
Q: Earlier you mentioned that one of the objectives of the roadmap was to identify technology areas so industry could work on those areas and bring technology to bear on those challenges. Can you characterize the degree to which the department thinks that there are international technologies resident with our allies that could address DOD requirements?
Weatherington: That's a pretty broad question. Certainly we believe there is excellent opportunity for joint cooperation across a range of UAV capabilities. You know, we use the term "UAV" fairly loosely, but you know, in actual sense, we're talking about systems that I can hold in my hand up to systems the size of Global Hawk, that range through a very broad capability mix.
So we believe there are opportunities focused at specific systems and specific mission areas that we can partner with our allies and coalition partners to support systems that meet their requirements and add to the overall NATO force structure.
Q: (Off mike) -- the tactical level to what you're saying, as opposed to --
Weatherington: I would not limit it exclusively to the tactical level. There are -- there's a broad range of sensor technology development ongoing, not only in this country but in other countries, that may, at the appropriate time, support mission needs of this country. So to some degree, sensor technology could be included.
Weapons development is another area.
CONOPS development -- I mean, there's a whole range of capabilities that have yet to be demonstrated in any country that we feel there are areas for mutual cooperation.
Q: Yes. Do you foresee increased investment into UAV programs cutting into the acquisition and development of traditional human- piloted base systems?
Weatherington: I'm -- no, I'm not going to go there. (Laughs.) My focus is on UAV technology.
Yes, sir? Right here.
Q: Ground stations is a major area of focus, both using the information from the UAVs and controlling them. There's a lot of effort toward commonality in ground stations, yet there are some questions about how common can you make them. Could you address that?
Weatherington: Actually, I'll let Major McCormick answer that question. He's got a very good background in ground stations.
McCormick: Thanks, Dyke. You always give me the easy questions. (Laughs, laughter.)
The ground station is certainly an integral part of any unmanned system, because of just the inherent nature of the technology. We have a background within -- the Navy has put a great deal of effort into the tactical control station; you're all familiar with that. We've gone through several iterations. There's a lot of development remaining in that particular program. Similarly, the Army has gone to great lengths to try and standardize their ground station components. The Air Force is in the process of doing the same thing.
I guess to summarize, after a lot of effort involving a lot of people, what we've tried to do to bound the scope of how much commonality is appropriate, UAV missions -- UAV applications are very diverse. So we don't believe that a single solution is going to address all the needs.
What we are doing under the Interoperability IPT [integrated product team] that Dyke mentioned earlier is trying to identify those standards that can facilitate, I guess, a more efficient development of the components on the ground and in the air to better bring UAV technologies into different mission areas where they can be very effective. So, we think that's a very fruitful area and we're putting our energy into the standards side of common ground station solutions.
Q: Can you give some examples of things that are common that you think could be used by all the services -- that are common components?
McCormick: Yes, ma'am. For example -- and this will show both the pros and the cons of the common solution -- but there's a -- for mission planning for some of the larger air vehicles, that there's - JMPS [joint mission planning system] is being developed as a common mission planning system across manned and unmanned systems. It makes a lot of sense. On the other hand, there are some micro-UAVs and smaller UAV applications where it's not cost-effective to carry the overhead of the processing and the capability to use that common software package. So, the piece that we're trying to pull out of that -- the mission planning, the JMPS is certainly established and in place. And UAV developers can draw upon that as a common component. We don't need to direct that at this point in time.
What we are trying to do, for example, is implement the common route definition that JMPS and many other mission planners use to describe a route that a UAV is going to follow. So I think that's the best example of how the standards can support a common component.
And I think as much as possible, we're trying to go out and establish de jour standards, standards that are generally accepted by the developers rather than by law. And I might have gotten those backwards. The de facto is the ones that people choose to use, and de jour, by law, sort of assumes a perfect ability to decide what it is that everybody needs. And again, I mentioned how diverse the applications are, so it's very challenging to be right for all of those applications.
I'll take two more questions for me -- how about that? -- and then I'll get out of the way and back for Dyke.
Ma'am, did you have a question about the C3I?
Q: When it comes to deconfliction and airspace integration, what are you guys doing to make sure that UAVs can be integrated into airspace not only in the United States, but abroad, when we need to use them?
McCormick: A very important area. And we're teaming aggressively with industry, with FAA [Federal Aviation Administration] , to work these challenges. We're, of course, focused on DOD's challenges. And industry has many more challenges that current procedures help us with, I guess, in a way -- you know, we can control airspace when we're in combat situations that commercial customers can't do.
But there is a great deal of effort going on within the individual programs as they employ. Global Hawk has about four years of experience of going and interacting internationally with airspace authorities and working out the arrangements and the procedures that allow them to operate in international and U.S. airspace. We're building on that.
We have a study underway to work towards a common set of rules within all the regions in the U.S. that will allow for routine file- and-fly access to the national airspace. We see that as a multi-year effort, and working that pretty aggressively.
Industry has an Access Five activity that I will let them describe to you in another forum, but it is closely supported by the FAA, and the objective is to provide an established level of access for UAVs to the national airspace system within five years. And they've set specific goals and they have budget laid out to get there.
Q: Well, how is it going, though, working with international partners, that may not be partners today, in terms of making sure we can fly Global Hawk through France, for example, or Russia. (Laughs, laughter.)
McCormick: Right. Obviously, I can't predict what will happen in any particular situation. But I can say that we've never encountered yet a case where we've needed to go someplace and we haven't been able to do so because of airspace restriction.
Q: The standards that you're trying to develop that will make sure that everybody operates together must bear some fruit fairly soon, it would seem, because there are programs out there -- thinking of the Army's future combat system; the Navy has a pretty strong demand for tactical systems at some point out at sea that they're interested in for submarines or surface ships. How soon will products from the working groups that you have going on interoperability start to bear fruit and really get out there and start to influence how these different services acquire systems so that they're all working together?
McCormick: I think you're right on about where the priorities should be, and we are focused on those emergent systems - FCS [Future Combat System], UCAV. I think that's where we ought to be listening to them as our most important customers at this point time. There are many standards that exist today, and so the first step is to go down the joint technical architecture, if you will, and identify those already approved items that are well suited to UAVs. At the same time, we want to identify shortfalls, whether it's a profile to overlay on top of an existing standard or a missing standard that UAV developers need and want, and then identify the appropriate way to either write a new standard, find another organization who's interested in writing a standard or adapting an existing standard to do that.
Some of the -- the more challenging areas that aren't fully addressed, such as weapons employment, I think those are going to take a little more time because you already have a lot of people working in different directions. So how to achieve consensus, that's going to take time. But we expect in the very near term, within a year, to expand the standards that are already listed in the roadmap, particularly in the area of communications, and have some concrete results.
Q: Will the roadmap be the vehicle through which you publish the findings and the standards that you set, or will you put out a separate report that says these are the standards for this particular kind of mission area to which all services must apply?
McCormick: The roadmap is a fairly top-level document. We would not see that as being the JTA [joint tactical architecture] for UAVs, for example. We have not yet determined exactly what the form is for all those standards. There's really no reason for it to be different from other systems. And the model, if you're familiar with the Distributed Common Ground System, I think that's a real good way to look at a series of integrated product teams and a set of standards and implementation guidance to go with it. That's what I would envision.
Q: I don't know who this question is for, but following up on the airspace issues, one of your top 10 goals in the roadmap here is replacing FAA's COA process, their certification of authorization process, which I guess most people say is pretty time-consuming, with using Form DD-175. Can you just explain that in a little detail what the advantages are there for you?
McCormick: What we're really getting at that -- and that form, I believe, is a standard flight plan. The main point there is the same procedures that manned aircraft use today we want to use for UAVs. The simple answer is that as soon as UAVs are equipped to satisfy all the requirements of an airspace, they should be able to operate just like any other system in the airspace. Today, systems either or not yet -- haven't developed the level of confidence or they don't yet have that equipment. The biggest challenge, of course, is the see-and-avoid part of it. So we are -- we're pushing the technologies, we're pushing the procedures and building the confidence to get to that point where we can file and fly.
Q: And this is -- well, I mean, does this represent file and fly, this step which you say here is due in FY '04?
McCormick: Yes, that's the objective, to file and fly.
Weatherington: Jim, if I could. That more specifically is a regulatory piece of airspace integration. In a broad sense, there are three pieces for airspace integration. There is the equivalent-level- of-safety piece. Jim mentioned that as see-and-avoid. But there's a technology piece there that UAVs have to demonstrate not only for the civilian community but the military community too that we have assurance that we know where they are, we know where they're going and we can avoid collisions.
There's a regulatory piece. Now the focus here is on FAA regulations. There's also pretty much an equivalent site of that on the military side. And then there's an implementation piece. Someone else mentioned the reliability of UAVs, and certainly that implementation piece, part of that is demonstrating reliability to the degree that we are confident that when we launch these systems, that they go where we tell them to go, that they stay in the airspace that we command them to stay in, and, if so commanded to do so, they can -- they can move their track.
So there's really three pieces, in a large sense, of airspace integration. That goal really addresses the regulatory piece, because we think we are putting adequate resources in the technology piece. And when we have those developed, we believe we have a pretty good process to do the implementation piece.
Q: And would you be limiting this initially to high-altitude? You know, some of the larger platforms like Global Hawk typically fly above traffic and weather.
Weatherington: Actually, this area is so important that in the roadmap, we have included in the appendix just on airspace integration. But yes, to answer your question, the systems that typically operate above 60,000 feet, Global Hawk, present an option to work those issues first. But I will also point out that to get to 60,000 feet, you have to penetrate those other airspace corridors. So it's not quite as simple as just saying, "If I satisfy the FAA for 60,000-foot operation, that I have all my issues solved." But there are other ways that we can get those systems from the ground to 60,000 feet and then begin to build a database that provides FAA confidence that for that airspace segment, we have a good handle on how we're operating.
McCormick: And also on the '04 objective, by no means is that going to get us to the point where all UAVs can file and fly in the airspace. There are going to be many challenges.
Q: Back to the electronic attack missions. The first of the priority recommendations is that combat UAVs should emphasize early fielding of an electronic attack capability, with growth to other missions. What's the state of the art in that area right now and what's the goal by this 2010 deadline?
Weatherington: I won't discuss state of the art. I will simply say that, as I identified at the beginning, opening statement, there are mission areas that have critical deficiencies, and airborne electronic attack is one of those mission areas that has critical deficiencies. The department and, in fact, the Air Force believes that a portion of that mission area could be supported by UAV systems operating in that role. And that's really all I'll say at this point in time.
Q: Could you please discuss what the roadmap said regarding much more unconventional UAVs, like stratospheric airships? Do you feel that those hold a lot of promise as a persistent ISR asset? Do you feel that the DOD is investing enough in technologies for those type of assets?
Weatherington: That's an excellent question because it brings up the definition of UAV. In Section 1 of the roadmap, we define a UAV, and actually we use the definition out of Joint Pub 1-1, which basically says a UAV is an unmanned system that generates its lift through propulsion. So balloons, stratospheric airships don't fit into the category that we've defined for the UAV roadmap.
Q: I believe the Air Force decided some time ago that Global Hawk, to preserve its ability to do reconnaissance and perform itsU-2 role, would not be armed in any way. Would that include such things that are not dropping bombs, but things like jamming, electronic attack, some forms of SEAD or whatever, or is that simply -- could you explain that?
Weatherington: The roadmap, again, in the platform section defines the general mission areas and some of the attributes and capabilities a platform needs to support those mission areas. The roadmap does not define specific mission areas and specific vehicles. The services understand their limitations in a variety of mission areas and are aggressively looking at how current UAV systems might be modified to support some of those mission areas that have deficiencies. Of course, they're also looking at the development of new systems that might also support those mission areas. It's not really up for OSD to say what Global Hawk is used for. Certainly Global Hawk has demonstrated -- even its development phase today has demonstrated a good capability to support sections, segments of the ISR mission area. What other mission areas that system might evolve to are still open for debate and development.
Q: As we get more UAVs from different services all acting in the same airspace -- and people have touched on this -- but how do you prevent friendly fire, like from the Army shooting down a Dragon Eye, or whatever? Or does it not matter so much because they're unmanned?
Weatherington: Again, that goes back to that airspace integration issue. You know, we've kind of characterized airspace integration as a civil issue. It's equally important -- maybe more so from a military perspective for military airspace integration. And all the requirements that go along with manned platforms to identify themselves, identify where they are, where they're going, what their mission is, who owns them, who's controlling them, are equally important issues that must be addressed in the development of these UAV systems.
So the short answer is, that is a challenge, and it will become more of a challenge as we proliferate UAV systems across the battlespace. But that is an area that's being worked very hard.
Q: The U.K. is just starting up a program called Watchkeeper. Would it be possible that the U.S. and the U.K. might team on a future tactical system of this nature?
Weatherington: Actually, last month we had the program manager for Watchkeeper over here at our interoperability IPT and they briefed Watchkeeper. So the department and the services are very attune to their requirements and capabilities that the U.K. is attempting to support with the Watchkeeper program. Again, I won't be specific, the previous question about international cooperation, certainly Watchkeeper provides one of those avenues where some form of joint cooperation might be appropriate.
Q: How about the Euro Hawk program?
Weatherington: As you're probably aware, the department and the Air Force was supporting the demonstration of second capabilities on an Air Force Global Hawk to support German requirements. That demonstration program had to be curtailed because of real world operations. But again, that is one of those development areas where there potentially could be joint cooperative development. In fact, the department and the Air Force are exploring other avenues to support that -- to support the German government and their demonstration of that capability.
Q: Do you think -- (inaudible) -- using a Global Hawk?
Weatherington: I would more appropriately use the word "modified."
Q: So it still might take Global Hawk being loaned to the Germans to do this demonstration?
Weatherington: There are a number of ways to demonstrate pieces of what the German government would like to see, and those are actively being worked both at department and the Air Force level.
Q: Using surrogate Global Hawks --
Weatherington: That would be using a Global Hawk. As you're probably aware, we're -- Global Hawks -- our airframes are in fairly short supply, but there may be opportunities to use some of the early ACTD [Advanced Concept Technology Demonstration] vehicles to demonstrate a portion of that capability.
Q: Following up on that question, with the planned establishment of the joint program office, do you envisage having foreign representation there, something similar to the JSF [Joint Strike Fighter], where you have a level -- a tiered level of international cooperation? I'm thinking of the U.K. [United Kingdom], which has expressed interest in that.
Weatherington: Certainly that is an option. I believe the near-term focus is to get the program office established with U.S. assets. But I would not preclude anything.
Staff: We have a couple questions over here.
Q: You talked about one of the big issues as positive control of weapons for UAV. Can you explain, vis-a-vis Iraq, what's going on right now to ensure that armed drones do not bring fire down on American troops or civilians? What specific fail-safes are built in to prevent that from happening?
Weatherington: No, sir, I cannot.
Q: Well, what -- is it akin to what goes on with regular manned aircraft?
Weatherington: No, I will not comment on that subject at all, sir.
Q: Can you talk about the reluctance of -- generally of commanders who are kind of concerned in the battlefield that there are unmanned vehicles with weapons on them? They'd prefer a man in the loop, for positive ID of a target. Can you talk about what you've encountered in terms of reluctance of commanders, generally speaking, to cede attack missions to unmanned vehicles?
Weatherington: Just let me say the integration of weapons on the unmanned systems is at the very early stages, very early stages. And so you might expect the department and the services that are doing that to be fairly conservative in the implementation of those capabilities.
As we gain confidence, as we gain expertise in the execution of those capabilities, I don't think it would be unreasonable to see other options explored. But your specific question is more appropriately addressed at the organizations that control those assets.
Q: What is the threshold that has to be achieved to gain that comfort level that you just --
Weatherington: Equivalent level of safety.
Q: Yeah, but that's too vague. I mean, is it one out of a million malfunctions? One out of a hundred? I mean, what has to be demonstrated in the air to give the comfort that the Pentagon desires?
Weatherington: I really believe it's an equivalent level of safety.
Q: You're talking about --
McCormick: I guess maybe, from a standards perspective, we've given a lot of discussion to this. And I guess the bottom line is that we have a lot of confidence in the war fighters to employ this system, much as they do manned weapons systems. And from what I've observed, they do that very cautiously.
Q: Can I have a quick follow-up? You mentioned that in the Gulf War there was essentially one model used. Today there are eight being deployed. What's your projection for 10 years from now? I mean --
Weatherington: That's a very difficult prediction to make. I believe we're going to see pretty sustained growth in UAV technology across a wide variety of mission areas. To peg that specifically 10 years from now would be -- is beyond my capability.
I'll take one more --
Q: It would be more than now, right? More than we have today?
Weatherington: It is not unreasonable to expect that we would continue to increase our use of UAVs in the future.
One more question. Who hasn't -- yes, ma'am?
Q: Thank you. You said that the X-45 is a demonstrator and the X-45D is in the design stages, it's going to take a couple of years, that you're -- in all likelihood, you're going to have to repeat it another couple of years. How does this support the whole goal of early fielding for UCAVs when around that time it's going to be manned aircraft still, you know, being procured in highest levels?
Weatherington: Good question. In general, just let me say that a demonstration of a capability without any service commitment to procure that capability is probably not terribly efficient in a resource allocation perspective. Certainly the department and the services want to do demonstrations on systems and capabilities that represent something that the services would either procure as they are demonstrated or with fairly minor modifications.
X-45C demonstrated a step to get to a system capability that was more in line with what the services thought they could use in about the 2010 time frame. Now, certainly, we haven't flown that system yet. We don't know what its full capabilities are. But based on what the services are communicating to us, that seemed like a logical step to get to a more -- to a design closer to what the services might be willing to procure for initial use in a UCAV system.
Let me also say though that UCAV in general appears to be a program that will be laid out in a spiral development acquisition. We will probably deliver some initial capability that will be fairly limited. The intent there will be to get systems out to the field that fill a niche capability, and I've described some of those mission areas where we need support. But then we would expect the department and the services to grow that capability to expand that to other mission areas. What exactly those are, we don't know yet. But again, when you take the man out of the platform, that allows technologies and capabilities to be incorporated in there that are difficult to do with a manned system.
I'm going to have to cut it off there. I'm being pulled away with the hook. Thank you very much for your attention today.
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