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Leading the Development of Concepts of Operations for Next-Generation Remotely Piloted Aircraft

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Journal Article - Embargoed Full-Text

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556th Test and Evaluation Squadron Creech AFB United States

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The clear precursor to fundamental changes in tactics, technology, and community norms is the design of new concepts of operations CONOPS. Developmentof a CONOPS is a low-cost activity, but it has the power to change the direction of an entire enterprise. The current CONOPS for medium-altitude remotely piloted aircraft RPA in which the Air Force is deeply entrenched has driven budgets, manpower, requirements, and technological development fornearly two decades. To enable progression, the Air Force must reform its philosophy of how it procures RPA technology. Despite a fiscal environment that is prohibitive for development of an entirely new next-generation RPA system, the service canuse existing assets to realize a vast improvement in capability through changes in software architecture and digital data-linking of RPAs. An open-architecture RPA system can harness the natural rate of technological progression in industry and reverse the currently defunct RPA acquisition process, wherein new technology drives requirements, back to a state of requirements driving technological development. Only then can the Air Force resume its responsibility to lead industry in the development of RPA technology and break free of a sole-source paradigm.

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  • Pilotless Aircraft

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