External Programs Directorate: Outreach for the Unmanned Aircraft Systems Project Office
May 29, 2012
The Army's Project Manager (PM), Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) leads one of the eight PM organizations under the Program Executive Officer (PEO) for Aviation (AVN). PM UAS provides the DoD and Army leader's with world class UAS and unmanned control systems - interoperable with Army, Joint and coalition partners, as well as operational support, and system-of-systems innovation. These unmanned systems and related technologies have provided greater flexibility for our Soldiers in responding to national security challenges at home and abroad, against conventional as well as unconventional threats.
Army UAS support full spectrum operations waged by our forward deployed combatant commanders. Since the onset of Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) the Army's unmanned aircraft fleet has logged nearly 1.4 million combat flight hours in support forward deployed U.S. service members and our allies. PM UAS team members are part of the preeminent land force in the world today, and their skill and dedication to mission aid in keeping the Army the Nation's force of decisive action.
PM UAS is comprised of six distinct and diverse subordinate product offices and three functional divisions that support overall business management, logistics, and engineering support functions and are responsible for the acquisition and life cycle management of virtually all of the Army's unmanned aircraft fleet. Additionally, the team's External Programs Directorate serves as the lead for the PM, charged with establishing habitual relationships nationally and internationally to identify cooperative acquisition opportunities. This team's strategic mission is to enable more synergistic and seamless operations whenever the US conducts joint UAS operations with allied and coalition partners, and Defense Support of Civil Authorities (DSCA).
The External Programs Director acts as the customer advocate for PM UAS. He concentrates building intergovernmental collaboration, interoperability, and seeks efficiencies among federal agencies while supporting the PM UAS Strategic Communication Plan. Partnerships with academia are also fostered by overseeing technical agreements with academic partners.
External Programs is responsible for being the single point of contact to the Unmanned Aircraft Systems Project Office for organizations external to standard Army requirements. As such, External Programs proactively engages other Government Agencies (OGA), Industry, the joint Community and Academia. In addition, External Programs has a significant international presence.
LTC Robb Walker is the External Programs Director. He says "UAS has changed the way we fight our wars and will change the way we operate here in the U.S. Whether it be Homeland Security or local law enforcement, UAS will definitely play a bigger role in how each agency conducts business in the future."
The External Programs office hosts vendor days to allow external vendors the opportunity to interface with the leadership of PM UAS. These External Vendor Capability Briefing Days allow industry to introduce their goods and services to the offices within PM UAS.
The impetus behind these vendor days is "Industry sees the promise of UAS and are really pushing the edge of technology in making UAS smaller, lighter, faster, with greater endurance, and improved payloads packages, etc. Therefore, it makes perfect sense for PM UAS to hear about new technologies within industry, by providing an event to receive and coordinate unsolicited proposals."
External Programs also sponsors outreach initiatives with universities for college-level UAS research and development. According to LTC Walker, "Universities also see UAS as the way of the future and we are seeing more and more schools stand up programs for the research and development of unmanned systems." This effort will allow the Army to promote independent research and development at the University level, develop student interest in the Army's UAS program, and ultimately benefit from the students' work.
External Programs, through its international programs office, supports UAS Foreign Military Sales (FMS) and is staffed to manage multiple FMS programs while working potential programs in the final planning stages of accepting official Letters of Offer and Acceptance (LOA) from different countries around the globe. UAS will not only continue to gain popularity in the U.S.; but also on the international front as well. As our coalition partners and allies realize how UAS has improved our ability to conduct combat operations, they will pursue UAS for their own use.
As Overseas Contingency Operations draw down, the External Programs Office will continue to provide outreach, advice and subject matter expertise to those government and non-governmental agencies that desire to join UAS revolution.