The U.S. Army’s ducted fan unmanned aircraft is getting mixed reviews.
The so called Class I Block 0 unmanned aircraft is largely meeting performance requirements, but there are reliability problems, David W. Duma, principal deputy director for operational test and evaluation told legislators this week, who notes that the “system was heavily used by the test unit to perform intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance tasks.”
Here is what is positive in the testimony: The Class 1 UAS meets most of its air vehicle flight and sensor performance requirements.
Here is what is of concern: “However, the UAS was not employed as the back-packable company-level and platoon-level asset envisioned by the user. Due to poor system reliability, the unit consolidated these systems under centralized battalion-level control to achieve system redundancy.” When used at the higher echelon of operations, the ducted fan system “does not have the range or endurance necessary to conduct missions within a larger battalion area of operations.”
Because the system had to be used differently than envisioned, Dumas says “an assessment cannot be made of the effectiveness of the UAS employed in the platoon/company role for which it is designed.”
The reliability shortfalls seems significant. Dumas notes that “the Class 1 UAS is not reliable, demonstrating a mean time between system abort of 1.5 hours versus a 23-hour user threshold requirement.”