Although U.S. Army unmanned aerial systems (UAS) have logged over 1.2 million hours of combat flight time over Iraq and Afghanistan, UAS platforms can’t “do it all,” Maj. Gen. Tim Crosby, US Army PEO Aviation told a crowd at the AUVSI Unmanned Systems North America summit on Tuesday. When it comes to all of the capabilities that the service wants to see in its unmanned fleets, “we are not there yet within the UAS arena,” he said, “but give us a bit of time to finish that process. For UAS in the Army, there are so many aspects and new areas we can be focused on.”
One of the things the Army plans to focus on is persistent stare, said Lt. Gen. Rick Lynch, head of the Army's Installation Command. “If we are going to use unmanned technology to improve surveillance, we need to focus on persistent stare,” he said. He added that while the coming budget cuts won’t change the Army’s mission, they will force the service “to modify our ways” by buying less, but buying more strategically.
Tim Owings, Deputy Project Manager for the Army’s UAS program, hit the same theme during a separate discussion, warning that the Army is going to have to come to grips with the fact that as it expands its UAS fleets, it will have fewer soldiers available to operate them. As a result, the service is interested in developing ground systems that will allow one soldier to operate “two, three four aircraft” simultaneously.