By COL Tim Baxter, Project Manager, Unmanned Aircraft Systems Project OfficeDecember 13, 2012
Unmanned Aircraft Systems continues to be a critical enabler for our Army. With that in mind, I thought it important to share the Project Office's Vision, Mission and top five priorities with the Army Aviation Community.
Vision: Revolutionize our Nation's warfighting operations by being the world class leader in the development, production and sustainment of unmanned aircraft and associated systems.
Mission: Provide our Nation and its allies world class interoperable unmanned aircraft systems and integrated payloads through excellence in program management and lifecycle support.
Top Five Priorities:
My first priority is supporting our forces engaged in Overseas Contingency Operations. PM UAS has a significant role is supporting world-wide operations across the Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) portfolio. We continue to support a number of approved Joint Urgent Operational Need Statements (JUONS).
The Project Office is extremely sensitive to urgent and time sensitive needs of the warfighter and has excelled at rapid acquisition and fielding of our systems. PM UAS continues to focus on reliable logistics and maintenance support to our forces with over 500 support contractors deployed contributing to the success of our systems every day. I challenge the work force everyday to find a way to better support our deployed forces.
Second is executing our programs. The Project Office focus in this area is executing our Programs within the approved acquisition baseline and/or approved acquisition strategies. Several examples include our Gray Eagle and Shadow programs. Gray Eagle recently completed a successful Initial Operational Test and Evaluation (IOTE) and continues to work diligently to improve system reliability while providing direct support to deployed units.
Additionally, the Gray Eagle program is working towards an April 2013 Defense Acquisition Board (DAB) Full Rate Production Decision. The Shadow program is nearing the completion of the Tactical Common Data Link (TCDL) upgrade program, preparing for a spring 2013 Follow-on Test and Evaluation. TCDL is a significant upgrade for our Shadow system, involving substantial upgrades to system subcomponents and conversion of the system from analog to digital.
Third is improving efficiencies in our programs. The Project Office has embraced OSD guidance on Better Buying Power (BBP) across our programs. On June 28, 2010 Dr. Ashton Carter, then Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics (AT&L) issued the initial guidance on BBP. The essence of BBP is delivering better value to the taxpayer and improving the way DoD does business.
I have challenged PM UAS leaders to become experts in BBP and to continuously look for opportunities to adapt government practices to encourage program efficiencies and to provide incentives for greater efficiency in our dealings with industry. We have worked hard over the last year to instill a cost culture across the Project Office. We have focused on controlling and reducing costs while providing best value to the Warfighter.
Fourth is UAS futures. Futures include a Pre-Planned Product Improvement (P3I) program for each of the UAS product lines that represent sound investments, are well coordinated with UAS User representatives, and prepare UAS for the "Next War". PM UAS has been a leader in the area of interoperability across DoD. This leadership includes expanding areas of interoperability to allow both Manned-Unmanned and Unmanned-Unmanned Teaming.
Fifth is building a World Class Workforce. Our number one priority within this area is identifying and growing our next generation of UAS acquisition leaders. We work continuously to improve the capability of our workforce by focusing first on recruiting and retention of skilled and dedicated employees. These employees are then developed by taking advantage of opportunities for schooling, cross training, strong mentorship and a diverse recognition program.
As DoD budgets continue to shrink, this office remains dedicated to exploring all opportunities to gain better buying power in order to do more without more. The PM UAS team, Soldiers, civilians and industry partners alike, works tirelessly to provide world class UAS technology and support to our brave forward deployed men and women. The balanced approach taken by this organization has already netted across the board cost savings, while having little impact on our mission accomplishment.