Army backed by OSD in decision to continue Gray Eagle upgrades

The Army plans to press on with its plan to buy more Gray Eagle drones and make key upgrades to the aircraft despite glitches encountered with its software in advance of its initial operational test and evaluation schecduled for early August, reports Defense News. The IOT&E is a milestone on the way to full-rate production, the story said.

The Army has been flying a small number of the camera-equipped aircraft similar to the Air Force's Predator in Afghanistan and plans to buy 29 more planes from General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, the story said.

Maj. Gen. William “Tim” Crosby defended the decision to press on as a deliberate strategy that was sent "all the way up the chain" and fully vetted with the Office of the Secretary of Defense and the defense acquisition board that monitors major programs, the story said.

Of two options, one of which was to stop adding new capabilities and focus on improving software reliability and the other which was to worry about reliability later and press ahead with new capabilities to better serve warfighters on the ground, the decision was made to add more important capabilities needed in theater such as a synthetic aperture radar/ground moving target indicator sensor and a data relay system.

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