I’M NOT SURE THIS IS WISE: Army Wants Manned-Aircraft Airworthiness Levels From Future Drones.

As it looks to the future, the Army is less than happy with some aspects of its UAS fleet, which it largely acquired to meet urgent operational requirements rather than through traditional procurement processes. Instead of the Pentagon program-of-record approach, industry has developed systems and upgrades that have then been acquired by the Army.

“COTS [commercial off the shelf] isn’t good enough for us now. Everybody’s got COTS,” says Dennis Sparks, chief of the technical management division within the Army’s UAS project office.

Another concern is airworthiness. This was not an issue when UAS were purchased and delivered into war zones, but it became a problem when the service wanted to bring the systems home and train with them in domestic airspace.

I understand the concern, but it might be misplaced.

If you think of manned aircraft as the “quality” force, and drones as the “quantity,” then it makes sense to keep UAS costs down as much as possible. Also, we accept risk levels on UAS missions that we might not always accept for manned missions, and part of that calculation is that a drone is far less expensive than an F-22 or an F-35.

Or am I missing something here?