The United States Military Services have manifold training, operations and research programs and facilities. In January 2006, an UAV intermural ownership tug of war has developed between the USAF and US Army over who is the principal proponent of UAVs. This was put to rest with an interservice MOU between the USAF and US Army specifying how to manage UAVs interservice.
Military UAVs fly in the NAS, and in restricted airpace (military reservations) under the jurisdiction of the DoD as specified in DoD Mil 1209 Section 9. The US military has endogenous airworthiness, flight operations, pilot certification and maintenance procedures that are recognized by the FAA under Order 7610K Special Military Operations and similar MOUs. For example, the Global Hawk UAS system flies under a military airworthiness certificate rather that a civil FAA Airworthiness Certification. In January, the Global Hawk received its final airworthiness certification and the first four production airframes completed acceptance OT&E.
The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) funds and manages much of the UAV research in the United States. DARPA's Tactical Technology Office program Aerospace Systems are linked here. The US Department of Defense has published its Unmanned Aircraft Systems Roadmap 2005-2030. (large)The Defense Policy Board in February 2004 has issued its Study on UAVs and UCAVs (large) covering reliability, production issues, mishap rates, vulnerability, technology issues and costs. In February 2003 the Office of the Secretary of Defense issued its UAV Reliability Study (large)
This webpage contains information and links to the most important UAV COEs, operations and research centers that are currently in operation within the United States.
J-UCAS - The Joint Unmanned Combat Air Systems (J-UCAS) program is a joint DARPA-Air Force-Navy effort to demonstrate the technical feasibility, military utility and operational value of a networked system of high performance, weaponized unmanned air vehicles to effectively and affordably prosecute 21st century combat missions, including Suppression of Enemy Air Defenses (SEAD); Electronic Attack (EA); precision strike; surveillance/reconnaissance; and, persistent global attack within the emerging global command and control architecture.
X-45 System (Boeing)
X-47 System (Northrop Grumman)
The J-UCAS program termination was announced at the February AUVSI meeting in Washington. Elements of the program, including X-45 and X-47 variants, survive but not as a Joint Interservice program.
United States Army
Fort Rucker (described by Global Security.org) has been designated as the principal UAV Center of Excellence for the US ARMY. Operating UAVs will be the RQ-5A Hunter, the RQ-7 Shadow, the Stryker, the RQ-8 Fire Scout VTOL, and the UCAR currently under development by DARPA.
The Army Aviation Warfighting Center and the U.S. Army Intelligence Center are currently working together to transfer proponency of UAV systems from Fort Huachuca, Ariz., to Fort Rucker. Phase One of this two-phase process, the Transition and Formal Transfer phase, is well underway and will include the signing of a memorandum of agreement. Phase Two begins April 6, 2006.
The Army’s UAVS Proponency at Fort Rucker will tie into more than eleven additional UAVS activity centers, including some of these commands: the Combined Arms Center at Fort Leavenworth, Kan.; the Depth and Simultaneous Attack Battle Lab at Fort Sill, Okla.; UAV Training and Simulation Center at Fort Huachuca; the Aviation Applied Technology Directorate at Fort Eustis, Va.; and the Program Manager for UAVS at Redstone Arsenal.
Fort Rucker will also be the site for UAV doctrine, training, standardization, and safety; as well as the TRADOC System Manager for UAV, the Air Maneuver Battle Lab, the Army Combat Readiness Center; and the Directorate of Evaluations and Standards. Collocation of the functions will further optimize UAVS development.
Additionally, Fort Rucker will link with the national UAV Joint Center of Excellence (JCoE) at Indian Springs, Nevada. The JCoE will coordinate the development of common strategies; interoperability, standardization and architecture issues; as well as tactics, techniques and procedures.
The Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Systems Project Office is located at the Redstone Arsenal.
Fort Huachuca, AZ has just opened the largest UAV training facility in the world. The $10,000,000 facility contains 25,000 sq ft of space and 10 simulators.
A Maryland Army National Guard unit, the Shadow TUAV plotoon of Charlie Company, 629th Military Intelligence Battalion, detached to the NavAIr Pax River NAS, has opened a Shadow 200 UAV unit in Feb 2006.
Installations currently with a UAV Mission include Fort Huachuca-AZ, Fort Eustis-VA, Fort Benning-GA, Aberdeen Proving Ground-MD, Redstone Arsenal-AL, Fort Knox-KY, Fort Gordon-GA, Fort Sill-OK, Fort Leonard Wood-MO, Fort Lee-VA, and Picatinny Arsenal-NJ.(see organizational graphic)
The United States Navy - NavAir - PMA-263
NavAir commands the United States Navy UAS operations from PAX River NAS. The NAVY Unmanned Aerial Vehicles PMA-263. This site is an excellent resource for information on Navy development programs on the Fire Scout, BAMS, J-UCAS and Close Range UAVs ( Scan Eagle, Dragon Eye, and Neptune programs). The resource information must be accessed through a central webpage - deep linking directly to specific programs in not possible. AV files illustrate these UAVs in flight.