oversight

Defense Acquisitions: Future Aerostat and Airship Investment Decisions Drive Oversight and Coordination Needs

Published by the Government Accountability Office on 2012-10-23.

Below is a raw (and likely hideous) rendition of the original report. (PDF)

               United States Government Accountability Office

GAO            Report to the Subcommittee on
               Emerging Threats and Capabilities,
               Committee on Armed Services,
               U.S. Senate

October 2012
               DEFENSE
               ACQUISITIONS

               Future Aerostat and
               Airship Investment
               Decisions Drive
               Oversight and
               Coordination Needs




GAO-13-81
                                                 October 2012

                                                 DEFENSE ACQUISITIONS
                                                 Future Aerostat and Airship Investment Decisions
                                                 Drive Oversight and Coordination Needs
Highlights of GAO-13-81, a report to the
Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and
Capabilities, Committee on Armed Services,
U.S. Senate



Why GAO Did This Study                           What GAO Found
Use of lighter-than-air platforms, such          GAO identified 15 key aerostat and airship efforts that were underway or had
as aerostats, which are tethered to the          been initiated since 2007, and the Department of Defense (DOD) had or has
ground, and airships, which are free-            primary responsibility for all of these efforts. None of the civil agency efforts met
flying, could significantly improve U.S.         GAO’s criteria for a key effort. Most of the aerostat and airship efforts have been
ISR and communications capabilities,             fielded or completed, and are intended to provide intelligence, surveillance, and
and move cargo more cheaply over                 reconnaissance (ISR) support. The estimated total funding of these efforts was
long distances and to austere                    almost $7 billion from fiscal years 2007 through 2012. However, funding
locations. DOD is spending about $1.3            estimates beyond fiscal year 2012 decline precipitously for aerostat and airship
billion in fiscal year 2012 to develop
                                                 efforts under development, although there is an expectation that investment in
and acquire numerous aerostats and
                                                 the area will continue.
airships.
GAO was asked to determine (1) what              Aerostat (left) and Airship (right)
key systems governmentwide are
being developed and acquired,
including funding, purpose, and status;
(2) any technical challenges these key
efforts may be facing; and (3) how
effectively these key efforts are being
overseen to ensure coordination, and
identify any potential for duplication. To
address these questions, GAO
reviewed and analyzed documentation
and interviewed a wide variety of DOD
and civil agency officials.

What GAO Recommends                              Three of the four aerostat and airship efforts under development, plus another
GAO recommends that DOD take                     airship development effort that was terminated in June 2012, have suffered from
actions based on the extent of its               high acquisition risks because of significant technical challenges, such as
future investments in this area: (1) if          overweight components, and difficulties with integration and software
investments are curtailed, ensure it has         development, which, in turn, have driven up costs and delayed schedules.
insight into all current and planned
efforts in the short term; (2) if                DOD has provided limited oversight to ensure coordination of its aerostat and
investments increase significantly,              airship development and acquisition efforts. Consequently, these efforts have not
include the efforts in strategic                 been effectively integrated into strategic frameworks, such as investment plans
frameworks to ensure visibility and              and roadmaps. At the time of GAO’s review, DOD did not have comprehensive
coordination, guide innovation, and              information on all its efforts nor its entire investment in aerostats and airships.
prioritize investments; and (3) ensure           Additionally, DOD’s coordination efforts have been limited to specific technical
the roles and responsibilities of the            activities, as opposed to having a higher level authority to ensure coordination is
senior official responsible for the              effective. DOD has recently taken steps to bolster oversight, including the
oversight and coordination of airship-           appointment of a senior official responsible for the oversight and coordination of
related programs are defined. DOD                airship-related programs. However, as of August 2012, DOD has not defined the
concurred with the recommendations.              details relating to the authority, scope, and responsibilities of this new position.
                                                 Whether these steps are sufficient largely depends on the direction DOD intends
                                                 to take with aerostat and airship programs. If it decides to continue investing in
                                                 efforts, more steps may be needed to shape these investments.
View GAO-13-81. For more information,
contact Cristina Chaplain at (202) 512-4841 or
chaplainc@gao.gov.


                                                                                           United States Government Accountability Office
Contents


Letter                                                                                     1
               Background                                                                  3
               Most Key Aerostat and Airship Efforts Underway or Initiated Since
                 2007 Have Been Fielded or Completed                                       8
               Aerostat and Airship Efforts under Development Are Experiencing
                 Technical Challenges                                                    14
               DOD Has Provided Limited Oversight to Ensure Coordination of Its
                 Aerostat and Airship Efforts                                            19
               Conclusions                                                               25
               Recommendations for Executive Action                                      26
               Agency Comments and Our Evaluation                                        26

Appendix I     Scope and Methodology                                                     28



Appendix II    Examples of Civil Government Use of Aerostats                             30



Appendix III   DOD Aerostat and Airship Development, Acquisition, and
               Operations Efforts                                                        31



Appendix IV    Funding Calculations for Aerostats and Airships, Fiscal Years 2007
               through 2016                                                              37



Appendix V     Comments from the Department of Defense                                   39



Appendix VI    GAO Contact and Staff Acknowledgments                                     42



Tables
               Table 1: Inventory of Aerostat and Airship Efforts as of June 2012          9
               Table 2: Comparison of LEMV and Blue Devil Block 2 Capabilities
                        as of June 2012                                                  24
               Table 3: Civil Government Agencies’ Aerostat Usage                        30



               Page i                                          GAO-13-81 Defense Acquisitions
          Table 4: Aerostat and Airships Essentials, Purpose, and Status           31
          Table 5: Total Aerostat Funding, Fiscal Years 2007 through 2016          37
          Table 6: Total Airship Funding, Fiscal Years 2007 through 2016           38


Figures
          Figure 1: Aerostat System (U.S. Army’s Persistent Threat Detection
                   System)                                                           4
          Figure 2: Conventional Airship (U.S. Navy’s Advanced Airship
                   Flying Laboratory)                                                5
          Figure 3: Hybrid Airship (U.S. Army’s Long-Endurance Multi-
                   Intelligence Vehicle)                                             6
          Figure 4: Funding for DOD Aerostat and Airship Efforts for Fiscal
                   Years 2007 through 2012                                         11
          Figure 5: Fiscal Years 2007 through 2016 Funding for Aerostats and
                   Airships under Development                                      13




          Page ii                                        GAO-13-81 Defense Acquisitions
Abbreviations
AAFL        Advanced Airship Flying Laboratory
DARPA       Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency
DHS         Department of Homeland Security
DOC         Department of Commerce
DOD         Department of Defense
DOE         Department of Energy
EPA         Environmental Protection Agency
FPDS-NG     Federal Procurement Data System—Next Generation
FY          fiscal year
GARP        Geospatial Airship Research Platform
HALE-D      High Altitude Endurance-Demonstrator
ISIS        Integrated Sensor is Structure
ISR         intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance
JLENS       Joint Land Attack Cruise Missile Defense Elevated Netted
            Sensor
LEMV        Long Endurance Multi-Intelligence Vehicle
LTA         lighter-than-air
NASA        National Aeronautics and Space Administration
NOAA        National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
OASDR&E Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Research
            and Engineering
O&M         operations and maintenance
PGSS        Persistent Ground Surveillance System
PSST        Persistent Surveillance System-Tethered
PTDS        Persistent Threat Detection System
RAID        Rapid Aerostat Initial Deployment
RDT&E       research, development, test, and evaluation
REAP        Rapidly Elevated Aerostat Platform
TARS        Tethered Aerostat Radar System
TRL         technology readiness level


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Page iii                                                   GAO-13-81 Defense Acquisitions
United States Government Accountability Office
Washington, DC 20548




                                   October 23, 2012

                                   The Honorable Kay R. Hagan
                                   Chairman
                                   The Honorable Rob Portman
                                   Ranking Member
                                   Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities
                                   Committee on Armed Services
                                   United States Senate

                                   Platforms that utilize lighter-than-air (LTA) technologies—such as
                                   aerostats (buoyant craft tethered to the ground), and airships (buoyant
                                   craft that are free-flying)—may hold the potential for significantly
                                   increasing capabilities in the areas of persistent intelligence, surveillance,
                                   and reconnaissance (ISR) and communications, as well as lowering the
                                   costs of transporting cargo over long distances and to austere locations,
                                   such as those without aircraft runways. 1 The Department of Defense
                                   (DOD) has embarked on a variety of efforts to develop and acquire LTA
                                   platforms for these purposes. DOD’s investments in these platforms
                                   totaled about $1.3 billion in fiscal year 2012. Additionally, other federal
                                   agencies, such as the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), are
                                   using or are considering using these platforms in conducting their
                                   missions. However, the visibility into and progress of these efforts, as well
                                   as how much they are being coordinated, has been unclear.

                                   Because of the variety and number of aerostat and airship programs and
                                   interest in the extent of coordination across programs and potential for
                                   unnecessary duplication, you asked us to determine (1) what key aerostat
                                   and airship systems across the government are being developed and
                                   acquired, including funding, purpose, and status; (2) any technical
                                   challenges these key efforts may be facing; and (3) how effectively these
                                   key efforts are being overseen to ensure coordination, and identify any
                                   potential for duplication.

                                   To determine what key aerostat and airship systems across the federal
                                   government are being developed and acquired, including funding, purpose,



                                   1
                                    Persistence is the length of time a sensor can provide continuous coverage of a location,
                                   target, or activity of interest.




                                   Page 1                                                    GAO-13-81 Defense Acquisitions
and status of those systems, we reviewed documentation and interviewed
officials on the status and progress of aerostat and airship development
efforts in areas such as requirements, budgets, funding, costs, schedule,
contracting, technology maturation, and actual or planned operational
characteristics. In doing so, we developed an inventory of key airship and
aerostat development and acquisition efforts which enabled a comparison
of platform types, performance attributes, and costs. Based on funding data
we collected, we determined that our definition of “key aerostat and airship
systems being planned, developed, and acquired” includes two key criteria
(1) total funding of $1 million or more for fiscal years 2007 to 2012, and (2)
efforts to plan, develop, or acquire systems that include both a platform and
payload (such as sensors or cargo) capability. We analyzed documentation
and interviewed officials from various offices of the Secretary of Defense,
Joint Chiefs of Staff, Army, Navy, and Air Force; U.S. Central Command;
Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency; and Defense Logistics
Agency. We also analyzed documentation and interviewed officials from
civil agencies, including the Department of Homeland Security, Department
of Energy, Environmental Protection Agency, National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration, National Aeronautics and Space
Administration, and Office of the Director of National Intelligence. We did
not examine the development and utilization of LTA technologies outside of
the federal government.

To identify any technical challenges these key aerostat and airship efforts
may be facing, we analyzed documentation and interviewed officials from
the organizations mentioned above. We used the collected information to
assess any identified technical problems impacting the funding, cost,
schedule, and performance of airships and aerostats.

To determine how the various key aerostat and airship efforts are being
overseen to ensure coordination, and identify any potential for duplication,
we assessed aerostat and airship investments, acquisitions, capabilities,
and operations by analyzing documents and interviewing officials from the
organizations listed above, analyzing the inventory of key efforts
developed under our first objective, and reviewing prior GAO work for
relevant criteria. Specifically, we assessed oversight at the programmatic
and enterprise levels by reviewing organizational roles, responsibilities,
and authorities as they relate to aerostat and airship development,
acquisition, and operations efforts. We also determined the extent to
which plans and planning activities integrated aerostat and airship
development and acquisition efforts and capabilities within DOD.
Reviewed plans and planning activities included architectures, roadmaps,
investment plans, and requirements development. We also used the


Page 2                                            GAO-13-81 Defense Acquisitions
             information relating to various aspects of the development and acquisition
             efforts, such as requirements, and actual or planned performance
             attributes, to assess whether any of the efforts are potentially duplicative.

             We conducted this performance audit from June 2011 to October 2012 in
             accordance with generally accepted government auditing standards.
             Those standards require that we plan and perform the audit to obtain
             sufficient, appropriate evidence to provide reasonable basis for findings
             and conclusions based on our audit objectives. We believe that the
             evidence obtained provides a reasonable basis for our findings and
             conclusions based on our audit objectives. Additional details on our scope
             and methodology are provided in appendix I.


             This report examines two types of LTA platforms: aerostats and airships.
Background   Both use a lifting gas—most commonly helium—but an aerostat is tethered
             to the ground while an airship is free moving. Aerostats lack a propulsion
             mechanism and are connected to a mooring station on the ground by a
             long cable called a tether. The tether, in addition to securing the aerostat to
             one general area above the ground, usually provides power to the payload,
             such as ISR sensors and communications equipment, and carries data
             between the payload and ground control station. Airships, on the other
             hand, are manned or unmanned, self-propelled vehicles that have
             directional control. See figure 1 for an example of an aerostat system.




             Page 3                                             GAO-13-81 Defense Acquisitions
Figure 1: Aerostat System (U.S. Army’s Persistent Threat Detection System)




There are three basic types of airships: (1) non-rigid—which has no frame
and maintains its envelope (external structure) shape through the slightly
pressurized gas it contains; (2) semi-rigid—which also maintains its
shape through the slightly pressurized gas it contains, but also has a
structural keel along the bottom of the envelope to help distribute loads;
and (3) rigid—which has an internal rigid frame to maintain its shape and
to distribute lift and load weight. Blimps flying above sporting events are
commonly non-rigid airships, whereas the Hindenburg airship of the
1930s is an example of a rigid airship.

Airships can be further categorized by their shape—conventional or
hybrid. A conventional airship has an ellipsoidal shape reminiscent of
those that fly over sporting events. A hybrid airship combines the buoyant
lift of a lighter-than-air gas with the aerodynamic lift created by the shape
of the airship as it flies through the air. Shaped roughly like the cross-
section of an aircraft wing, a hybrid airship can generate up to 30 percent
of its lift as it flies. Additional lift can be generated by directing the thrust
of on-board propulsion systems (called vectored thrust) downward.
Because of the additional sources of lift, hybrid airships theoretically can




Page 4                                               GAO-13-81 Defense Acquisitions
take off in a heavier-than-air configuration. See figures 2 and 3 for
respective depictions of conventional and hybrid airships.

Figure 2: Conventional Airship (U.S. Navy’s Advanced Airship Flying Laboratory)




Page 5                                               GAO-13-81 Defense Acquisitions
Figure 3: Hybrid Airship (U.S. Army’s Long-Endurance Multi-Intelligence Vehicle)




In the early to mid 1900s, and especially during World War II, the U.S.
Navy operated a variety of airships for maritime patrol and fleet
reconnaissance, including assistance in antisubmarine warfare.
Additionally, in the early 1930s, airships were used for commercial
transportation across the Atlantic Ocean. However, advances in fixed-
wing aircraft design, capabilities, and availability, as well as in enemy
antiaircraft weaponry, led to a marked decline in the military and
commercial use of airships. For instance, the Navy disbanded its last
airship unit in 1962, and since then, the military use of airships for other
than research and development purposes essentially discontinued.




Page 6                                               GAO-13-81 Defense Acquisitions
Since 1978, DOD has operated aerostats along the southern U.S. border
for counterdrug detection and monitoring. Additionally, civil government
agencies have used aerostats for a variety of purposes, such as
monitoring of environmental pollution, and atmospheric and climate
research. For example, since 2009, the Environmental Protection Agency
has used aerostats for the purpose of sampling air emissions from open
sources, such as prescribed forest burns. Additionally, the Department of
Commerce’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has used
small aerostats to collect wind data. Furthermore, the Department of
Homeland Security’s U.S. Customs and Border Protection is considering
using aerostats for its border security mission. The overall investment of
civil government agencies in LTA activities is small compared to that of
DOD. See appendix II for examples of civil agency aerostat activities.
While commercial use of airships has primarily been limited to sightseeing
and advertising, there has been interest in using airships for cargo
transportation to logistically austere locations, such as remote areas in
Alaska and Canada.

Several factors have increased DOD’s attention toward LTA platforms.
The lack of enemy air defense capabilities in recent military operations
has made threats to LTA platforms appear to be low, and the military’s
demand for persistent ISR has grown significantly. For example, DOD
plans to almost double the number of aerostats—from 66 to 125—in
Afghanistan for ISR in fiscal years 2011 and 2012. Also, growing budget
pressures have encouraged the study of potential solutions to military
problems, such as persistent ISR and heavy-lift cargo transportation,
which may reduce procurement and operations and maintenance costs.
For example, a 2008 Army Science Board study that compared fixed-wing
unmanned aircraft, space satellites, and LTA platforms for providing
persistent communications, surveillance, and reconnaissance missions,
concluded that airships offered great promise at being effective in
supporting these missions because of factors including ease of
reconfigurability, extended time on station, large payload capacity, and
lower cost. 2

LTA platforms face several significant operational hazards. For example,
weather phenomena such as high winds and lightning have posed the


2
 Department of the Army, Army Science Board FY2008 Summer Study Final Report:
Platforms for Persistent Communications, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance,
(Washington, D.C.: Sept. 2008).




Page 7                                               GAO-13-81 Defense Acquisitions
                        highest threats to aerostats deployed by the military in Afghanistan.
                        Before the arrival of hazardous weather conditions, aerostat operations
                        must cease and the platform must be lowered and secured to the mooring
                        station to help prevent platform or payload damage. Additionally, high
                        winds can make airships hard to control and increase fuel consumption,
                        reducing on-station endurance. Furthermore, combat operations can
                        result in punctures in the fabric caused by bullets and other projectiles.
                        However, low helium pressure in the envelope (which is only slightly
                        higher than the surrounding atmospheric pressure) means small helium
                        leaks from bullet holes are typically slow and repairs can usually wait until
                        a normally scheduled maintenance period.


                        We identified 15 key aerostat and airship efforts that were underway or
Most Key Aerostat       had been initiated since 2007, and DOD had or has primary responsibility
and Airship Efforts     for all of these efforts. 3 Most of these efforts have been fielded,
Underway or Initiated   completed, or terminated. Over the past 6 years, DOD’s overall
                        investment has increased, and the estimated total funding of these efforts
Since 2007 Have Been    was almost $7 billion from fiscal years 2007 through 2012. However,
Fielded or Completed    funding estimates for aerostat and airship efforts under development
                        beyond fiscal year 2012 decline significantly, although there is an
                        expectation that investment in the area will continue.


Status of 15 Efforts    Highlights on the 15 aerostat and airships efforts that were underway or
                        initiated since 2007 by DOD are presented in the table below—details of
                        each are provided in appendix III. Most of the aerostat and airship efforts
                        have been fielded or completed, and are intended to provide ISR support
                        or persistent surveillance, with on-station duration time typically greater
                        than fixed-wing unmanned aircraft.




                        3
                         None of the civil agency efforts we identified (see appendix II) met our criteria for “key”
                        systems being planned, developed, and acquired (details on our scope and methodology
                        are provided in appendix I).




                        Page 8                                                      GAO-13-81 Defense Acquisitions
Table 1: Inventory of Aerostat and Airship Efforts as of June 2012

                                                                                                        Total funding
                                                                                                         Fiscal years
                                                                                      Number               2007-2012
Name                                 Purpose                                          of units   (Millions of dollars)   Status
Fielded, completed, or terminated
Aerostats
Geospatial Airship Research          Test ISR and communication payloads                    2                    $9.4    Fielded
Platform (GARP)
Persistent Ground Surveillance       Provide ISR support                                   59                $1,508.0    Fielded
System (PGSS)
Persistent Threat Detection System Provide ISR support                                     66                $1,717.1    Fielded
(PTDS)
Rapid Aerostat Initial Deployment    Provide persistent surveillance for force             21                 $127.1     Fielded
(RAID)                               protection
Rapidly Elevated Aerostat Platform   Army: provide persistent surveillance/Navy:            3                    $5.3    Fielded
(REAP)-XL B                          extended communications relay system
Tethered Aerostat Radar System       Support DOD’s counterdrug detection and                8                 $213.5     Fielded
(TARS)                               monitoring mission along the southern U.S.
                                     border
Airships
Advanced Airship Flying Laboratory Test ISR and communication payloads                      1                   $14.1    Fielded
(AAFL, also known as MZ-3A)
Blue Devil Block 2                   Demonstrate persistent multi-intelligence ISR          1                 $243.6     Terminated
                                     capabilities
High Altitude Endurance-             Demonstrate ISR capabilities at high altitudes         1                   $36.3    Completed
Demonstrator (HALE-D)
HiSentinel                           Demonstrate ISR capabilities at high altitudes         2                   $11.2    Completed
Star Light                           Develop and demonstrate a high altitude and            1                    $2.1    Terminated
                                     long endurance airship
Under development
Aerostat
Joint Land Attack Cruise Missile     Provide detection and tracking of land-attack          2                $2,222.3    Under
Defense Elevated Netted Sensor       cruise missiles and other targets                                                   development
(JLENS)
Airships
Integrated Sensor is Structure       Develop and demonstrate radar sensor fully             1                 $471.4     Under
(ISIS)                               integrated into a stratospheric airship                                             development
Long Endurance Multi-Intelligence    Develop and demonstrate a hybrid prototype             1                 $275.9     Under
Vehicle (LEMV)                       airship for long-endurance ISR support                                              development
Project Pelican                      Develop and demonstrate a hybrid airship with          1                   $42.4    Under
                                     a rigid internal structure and test airship                                         development
                                     buoyancy control technologies
                                            Source: GAO analysis of DOD data.




                                            Page 9                                                    GAO-13-81 Defense Acquisitions
DOD’s pursuit of aerostats and airships is mostly due to the ability of
these platforms to loiter for a longer period of time than fixed-wing
unmanned aircraft, which makes them very suitable for supporting the
ISR mission. The various ISR sensors used or planned for the aerostats
and airships in our review include:

•   electro-optical cameras to conduct optical monitoring of the
    electromagnetic spectrum from ultraviolet through far infrared;

•   ground moving target indicator radars to detect, locate, and track
    vehicles throughout a large area when they are moving slowly on or
    just above the surface of land or water;

•   unattended transient acoustic measurement and signature intelligence
    systems that use sets of microphones to capture sounds that are
    processed and analyzed to determine the direction of the points of
    origin and impact of mortar launch; and

•   signals intelligence sensors to collect transmissions deriving from
    communications, electronic, and foreign instrumentation systems.

The aerostat and airship efforts we identified vary in terms of the time
they can operate on station in any single session. Their on-station
endurance time is typically greater than that of fixed-wing unmanned
aircraft. For example, the TARS aerostat is expected to stay on station for
6 days, whereas the LEMV airship is expected to stay on station for at
least 16 days. In contrast, tactical and theater-level fixed-wing unmanned
aircraft can stay on station from 6 hours for a Shadow aircraft, to 40 hours
for a Sky Warrior. 4 The amount of time on station is greatly dependent on
how often the aerostats and airships need to be topped off with additional
helium, and in the case of most airships, how often they have to be
refueled. 5




4
 See GAO, Defense Acquisitions: Opportunities Exist to Achieve Greater Commonality
and Efficiencies among Unmanned Aircraft Systems, GAO-09-520 (Washington, D.C.:
July 30, 2009).
5
 The ISIS airship is to be solar-powered; therefore, the airship’s on-station endurance time
is expected be one year. Also, the TARS aerostats are powered by a generator on board
that must be refueled after 6 days of operations.




Page 10                                                    GAO-13-81 Defense Acquisitions
DOD Has Invested Almost       Over the past 6 years, overall total DOD investment in aerostat and
$7 Billion in Aerostats and   airship development, acquisition, and operations and maintenance has
Airships over the Past 6      increased, ranging from about $339 million in fiscal year 2007 to a high of
                              about $2.2 billion in fiscal year 2010, and about $1.3 billion in fiscal year
Years                         2012, as illustrated in figure 4. DOD has invested almost $7 billion from
                              fiscal years 2007 through 2012 on key aerostat and airship efforts in our
                              review. Moreover, aerostat-related investment—$5.8 billion—accounted
                              for more than 80 percent of the total. See appendix IV for additional
                              details on the reported funding for these efforts.

                              Figure 4: Funding for DOD Aerostat and Airship Efforts for Fiscal Years 2007
                              through 2012




                              Note: Includes research, development, test, and evaluation; procurement; military construction; and
                              operations and maintenance funding, as applicable, during fiscal years 2007 through 2012. See
                              appendix IV for specific funding types and amounts.



                              Over 90 percent of all estimated aerostat investment from fiscal years 2007
                              to 2012—almost $5.4 billion—is attributed to the development and
                              procurement of three aerostat programs—JLENS, PGSS, and PTDS.
                              Aerostat funding increased through fiscal year 2010 primarily because of
                              increased demand for PGSS and PTDS aerostats in Afghanistan and Iraq.



                              Page 11                                                          GAO-13-81 Defense Acquisitions
                            Most of the total estimated airship investment from fiscal years 2007 to
                            2012—approximately $1.1 billion—consists of research, development,
                            test, and evaluation (RDT&E) costs. Of this amount, over 90 percent of
                            the airship RDT&E investment—approximately $1 billion—is for the Blue
                            Devil Block 2, ISIS and LEMV development efforts. The major increase
                            depicted for fiscal year 2010 reflects an increase in RDT&E investment
                            due to the beginning of funding for the Blue Devil Block 2 and LEMV
                            development efforts, as well as a substantial increase for the ISIS
                            development effort the Air Force began funding.


Estimated Funding for       Estimated funding for JLENS, ISIS, LEMV, and Project Pelican—efforts
Aerostats and Airships      under development—is expected to decline significantly after fiscal year
under Development           2012, as illustrated in figure 5.
Expected to Decline after
Fiscal Year 2012




                            Page 12                                         GAO-13-81 Defense Acquisitions
Figure 5: Fiscal Years 2007 through 2016 Funding for Aerostats and Airships under
Development




Note: Includes research, development, test, and evaluation; procurement; and military construction
funding, as applicable, during fiscal years 2007 through 2016. See appendix IV for specific funding
types and amounts.


However, according to DOD officials, investment in this area is expected
to continue in the future. The aggregate funding for these four
development efforts declines from $473 million in fiscal year 2012, to $23
million in fiscal year 2016. Funding for JLENS, the development effort
with the highest estimated cost from fiscal years 2012 to 2016, drops from
$369 million in fiscal year 2012 to $187 million in fiscal year 2013, $92
million in fiscal year 2014, $31 million in fiscal year 2015, and $23 million
in fiscal year 2016. The original funding profile for JLENS showed
substantively higher amounts over this time period, but due to a recent
decision to reduce the number of JLENS aerostats that DOD intends to
procure from 16 to 2, the current funding profile reflects this significant
reduction in procurement. There are also investment uncertainties in the
near term for LEMV and ISIS. According to LEMV program officials, if the


Page 13                                                           GAO-13-81 Defense Acquisitions
                       first LEMV is successfully demonstrated in Afghanistan, then it may
                       transition to an acquisition program which would likely require additional
                       funding. Also, ISIS program officials do not yet know if ISIS will become a
                       program of record.

                       According to an official in the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for
                       Intelligence, while DOD expects to continue funding airship and aerostat
                       efforts beyond fiscal year 2016, specific information regarding funding
                       amounts is not available at this time. Furthermore, we did not find any
                       current architectures, investment plans, or roadmaps that incorporated
                       aerostat and airship efforts to indicate DOD’s commitment to increase or
                       reduce its investment in this area.


                       Three of the four aerostat and airship efforts under development, plus
Aerostat and Airship   another airship development effort that was terminated in June 2012,
Efforts under          have suffered from high acquisition risks because of significant technical
                       challenges, leading to cost overruns and schedule delays. Additionally,
Development Are        DOD used the rapid acquisition process to acquire airships that had high
Experiencing           technical risks.
Technical Challenges

Aerostat and Airship   JLENS has experienced schedule delays and a Nunn-McCurdy unit cost
Technical Challenges   breach, 6 ISIS will not and LEMV did not meet their originally scheduled
                       launch dates and have experienced cost overruns, and Blue Devil Block 2
                       was terminated to avoid substantially increasing costs caused by
                       technical problems.

                       •   The Army initiated JLENS system development in August 2005.
                           JLENS consists of two large aerostats—over 240 feet in length—each
                           with a 7,000 pound payload capacity for cruise missile detection and
                           tracking. As we have previously reported, the program has



                       6
                        Enacted in 1982, the Nunn-McCurdy statutory provision requires DOD to notify Congress
                       whenever a major defense acquisition program’s unit cost experiences cost growth that
                       exceeds certain thresholds. A breach of the critical cost growth threshold occurs when the
                       program acquisition unit cost or the procurement unit cost increases by at least 25 percent
                       over the current baseline estimate or at least 50 percent over the original baseline
                       estimate.




                       Page 14                                                    GAO-13-81 Defense Acquisitions
    experienced design issues associated with the mobile mooring
    transport vehicle, as well as schedule delays caused by
    synchronization of JLENS with the Army’s Integrated Air and Missile
    Defense program. 7 JLENS was originally scheduled to enter
    production in September 2010. However, that same month, an
    aerostat accident resulted in the loss of one of the JLENS platforms.
    The accident, as well as recent system integration challenges, led to a
    decision to not procure production units. JLENS also incurred a critical
    Nunn-McCurdy program acquisition unit cost breach with the
    submission of the fiscal year 2013 President’s Budget due to a 100
    percent reduction in planned procurement quantities—the program
    previously planned to procure 16 aerostats. Now, the program is
    scheduled to only acquire 2 aerostats using research and
    development funding, and is not expected to enter the production
    phase.

•   ISIS is a joint Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA)
    and Air Force science and technology effort initiated by DARPA in
    2004. ISIS is to develop and demonstrate a radar sensor system that
    is fully integrated into a stratospheric airship measuring 510 feet in
    length and with a payload capacity of 6,600 pounds. ISIS has
    experienced technical challenges stemming from subsystem
    development and radar antennae panel manufacturing. Consequently,
    earlier this year DARPA temporarily delayed airframe development
    activities, and instead will mainly focus on radar risk reduction
    activities. During this time period, the ISIS team will develop an airship
    risk reduction plan and conduct limited airship activities. Based on the
    radar and airship risk reduction studies, DARPA will reassess the
    future plan for ISIS with the Air Force.

•   The Army initiated development efforts on LEMV in 2010. At over 300
    feet in length and with a goal of carrying a 2,500 pound payload, LEMV
    offers substantive potential ISR capabilities—if the program can meet
    its performance objectives. LEMV’s deployment is behind schedule by
    at least 10 months (about a 56 percent schedule increase) due to



7
 The Army’s Integrated Air and Missile Defense program is being developed to connect
sensors, weapons, and a common battle command system across an integrated fire
control network to support the engagement of air and missile threats. See GAO, Defense
Acquisitions: Assessments of Selected Weapon Programs, GAO-09-326SP (Washington,
D.C.: Mar. 30, 2009); and Defense Acquisitions: Assessments of Selected Weapon
Programs, GAO-11-233SP (Washington, D.C.: Mar. 29, 2011).




Page 15                                                 GAO-13-81 Defense Acquisitions
    issues with fabric production, getting foreign parts cleared through
    customs, adverse weather conditions causing the evacuation of work
    crews, and first-time integration and testing issues. Also, LEMV is about
    12,000 pounds overweight because components, such as tail fins,
    exceed weight thresholds. According to program officials, the increased
    weight reduces the airship’s estimated on-station endurance at an
    altitude of 20,000 feet from the required 21 days, to 4 to 5 days.
    However, current plans call for operating the airship at a lower altitude
    of 16,000 feet, which is expected to enable an on-station duration time
    of 16 days with minimal impacts to operational effectiveness (other than
    about a 24 percent reduction to on-station endurance). According to
    program officials, the biggest risk to program development was the
    ambitious 18-month initial development schedule (from June 2010 to
    December 2011). The Army successfully launched and recovered
    LEMV during its first flight in August 2012. The Army identified a fiscal
    year 2012 funding shortfall of $21.3 million resulting from the need for
    additional engineering and production support to mitigate and resolve
    technical issues at the LEMV assembly facility.

•   The Air Force initiated development efforts on Blue Devil Block 2 in
    2010. Much like LEMV, this effort was to deliver a large airship that
    would carry a 2,500 pound payload in support of the ISR mission. The
    length of the airship was 370 feet. Prior to its termination in June
    2012, the Blue Devil Block 2 airship effort experienced significant
    technical problems resulting in cost overruns and schedule delays.
    According to an Air Force official, the Blue Devil Block 2 development
    effort had a very aggressive development schedule because it was
    intended to meet an urgent need for use in Afghanistan. Some of the
    technical problems included the tail fins, which were overweight and
    failed structural load design testing, rendering the airship not flyable.
    Other technical problems included the flight control software which
    experienced problems due to issues related to scaling—although the
    software worked well with a much smaller scale version of the airship,
    it did not work well with the much larger Blue Devil Block 2 airship.
    The Air Force terminated the Blue Devil Block 2 airship effort in June
    2012 due to the technical problems experienced with the airframe and
    the need to avoid substantially increasing costs of the effort. For
    example, the contractor estimated that the 1-year post-deployment
    operations and maintenance costs would total $29 million, but the Air
    Force’s cost estimate ranged between $100 and $120 million—an
    estimate that was at least 245 percent higher than the contractor’s
    estimate. According to an Air Force official, the contractor’s estimate
    did not include costs such as for spare parts and repairs.




Page 16                                           GAO-13-81 Defense Acquisitions
Some Rapid Acquisitions   We found that DOD used its rapid acquisition process to initiate two airship
Took on Too Much Risk     efforts to quickly deliver warfighter capabilities, but significantly
                          underestimated the risks of meeting cost, schedule, and performance
                          goals. 8 DOD has taken a number of steps to provide urgently needed
                          capabilities to the warfighter more quickly and to alleviate the challenges
                          associated with the traditional acquisition process for acquiring
                          capabilities. 9 Some of these steps include quicker requirements validation
                          and reduced levels of oversight, including exemption from disciplined
                          analyses that help to ensure requirements are achievable within available
                          technologies, design, and other resources, and that programs have
                          adequate knowledge in hand before moving forward in the acquisition
                          process. The success of this accelerated acquisition process is predicated
                          on efforts that do not involve high development and acquisition risks, such
                          as limiting technology development by using mature technologies.
                          However, in the case of LEMV and Blue Devil Block 2, the risks of these
                          acquisitions were higher than usual for rapid acquisitions. Specifically:

                          •    The LEMV acquisition strategy was initially approved when
                               technologies were estimated to be at technology readiness levels 4
                               through 7. At the time, DOD’s acquisition guidance recommended a
                               technology readiness level 6 for product development. 10 DOD officials
                               stated that they were willing to assume higher risk with the potential of


                          8
                           Section 804(b) of the Ike Skelton National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year
                          2011, Pub. L. No. 111-383, requires, among other things, the acquisition process the
                          Secretary of Defense develops for the fielding of urgent capabilities to be appropriate only
                          for capabilities that can be fielded within a 2-24 month period.
                          9
                           DOD’s framework for planning, executing, and funding its weapon programs relies on
                          three decision-making systems—the Defense Acquisition System that relies on DOD
                          Instruction 5000.02, Operation of the Defense Acquisition System (Dec. 8, 2008), to guide
                          and manage the development and procurement of major weapon capabilities; the Joint
                          Capabilities Integration and Development System to assess gaps and recommend
                          solutions; and the Planning, Programming, Budgeting, and Execution process to allocate
                          funding resources—all of which involve lengthy time frames, large budgets, and
                          development efforts that can take decades to procure weapon systems.
                          10
                            DOD uses technology readiness levels (TRL) as a tool to assess technology maturity.
                          TRLs are measured on a scale from 1 to 9, beginning with paper studies of a technology’s
                          feasibility (TRL 1) and culminating with application of the technology in its final form and
                          under mission conditions (TRL 9). Demonstration that pieces will work together in a test
                          laboratory is TRL 4 and demonstrating that pieces work together in a simulated
                          environment is TRL 5. Testing of a prototype system in a relevant environment is TRL 6
                          and a major step up from TRL 6 is demonstrating an actual system prototype in a realistic
                          environment, which is TRL 7. Our best practices work has shown that TRL 7 is the level of
                          technology maturity that constitutes low risk for starting a product development program.




                          Page 17                                                     GAO-13-81 Defense Acquisitions
     developing an asset that had much greater on-station endurance and
     could provide capabilities on a single platform rather than on multiple
     aircraft. They stated that the higher risk of the effort was justified
     because there were multiple other efforts that were already providing
     surveillance capabilities in theater. DOD officials stated that, at the
     time the LEMV initiative was started, they expected the airship could
     be scaled up from a commercially existing demonstration variant and
     that the Army could meet the 18 month schedule to design, fabricate,
     assemble, test, and deploy the system. However, as noted earlier,
     LEMV experienced schedule delays of at least 10 months, largely
     rooted in technical, design, and engineering problems in scaling up
     the airship to the Army’s needs.

•    DOD also significantly underestimated the risk of the Blue Devil Block
     2 development effort. The Secretary of Defense designated Blue Devil
     Block 2 as an urgent need solution to eliminate combat capability
     deficiencies that had resulted in combat fatalities. According to
     program officials, it was thought that the Blue Devil Block 2 airship
     would be a variant of commercially-available conventional airships
     and therefore deemed the technologies associated with the platform
     to be mature. However, the part of the program considered to be the
     lowest risk—the airship platform—turned out to be a high risk
     development effort. At the time of project cancelation, the Blue Devil
     Block 2 airship was more than 10,000 pounds overweight, which
     limited the airship’s estimated endurance. The weight issue
     contributed to other design concerns, the tail fins were too heavy and
     were damaged during testing, and the flight control software
     experienced problems related to scaling to a larger airship. The Air
     Force terminated the acquisition in June 2012.

The experience of these two programs under the urgent needs acquisition
process is not unique. We recently reported that urgent needs initiatives
that required technology development took longer after contract award to
field because of technical challenges and testing delays than initiatives
that involved mature technologies. 11 Additionally, as reported in a 2009
Defense Science Board Task Force Study, squeezing new technology




11
  GAO, Urgent Warfighter Needs: Opportunities Exist to Expedite Development and
Fielding of Joint Capabilities, GAO-12-385 (Washington, D.C.: Apr. 24, 2012).




Page 18                                                GAO-13-81 Defense Acquisitions
                              development into an urgent timeframe creates risks for delays and
                              ultimately may not adequately address an existing capability gap. 12


                              DOD has not provided effective oversight to ensure coordination of its
DOD Has Provided              aerostat and airship development and acquisition efforts. Consequently,
Limited Oversight to          these efforts have not been effectively integrated into strategic
                              frameworks, such as investment plans and roadmaps. At the time of our
Ensure Coordination           review, DOD did not have comprehensive information on all its efforts nor
of Its Aerostat and           its entire investment in aerostats and airships. Additionally, DOD’s
                              coordination efforts have been limited to specific technical activities, as
Airship Efforts               opposed to having a higher level authority to ensure coordination is
                              effective. These shortcomings may have led to an instance of duplication,
                              which ended when one airship effort was terminated. DOD has recently
                              taken steps to bolster oversight. Whether these steps are sufficient
                              largely depends on the direction DOD intends to take with aerostat and
                              airship programs. If it decides to make significant future investments in
                              efforts, more steps may be needed to shape these investments.


Aerostat and Airship          We have reported on the value of strategic planning for laying out goals
Capabilities Not              and objectives, suggesting actions for addressing those objectives,
Effectively Integrated into   allocating resources, identifying roles and responsibilities, and integrating
                              relevant parties. 13 However, DOD has not effectively integrated aerostat
Strategic Frameworks
                              and airship capabilities into its strategic frameworks for future acquisitions
                              of unmanned or ISR systems. At the time of our review, DOD did not
                              have a reliable inventory of its aerostat and airship efforts, including
                              insight into its entire investment in aerostats and airships, or an office that
                              could discuss the status of all of these efforts. We found several
                              instances where aerostat and airship efforts were not well integrated into
                              recent strategic planning documents, such as investment plans and




                              12
                               Report of the Defense Science Board Task Force on the Fulfillment of Urgent
                              Operational Needs, July 2009.
                              13
                               GAO, Defense Space Activities: National Security Space Strategy Needed to Guide
                              Future DOD Space Efforts, GAO-08-431R (Washington, D.C.: Mar. 27, 2008); and
                              Unmanned Aerial Vehicles: Improved Strategic and Acquisition Planning Can Help
                              Address Emerging Challenges, GAO-05-395T (Washington, D.C.: Mar. 9, 2005).




                              Page 19                                                 GAO-13-81 Defense Acquisitions
roadmaps, which can help guide and prioritize DOD’s investments. 14 For
example:

•   U.S. Army Unmanned Aircraft Systems Roadmap 2010-2035—which
    is to inform warfighting functional concepts, contribute to capabilities-
    based assessments, and assist in the development of resource-
    informed decisions on new technologies—mentions the concept of
    LTA vehicles, but does not specify the potential contributions of
    specific aerostats or airships.

•   DOD’s Unmanned Systems Integrated Roadmap FY2011-2036—
    which is to address the recent surge in the use of unmanned systems
    and describe a common vision for the continued integration of
    unmanned systems into the DOD joint force structure—includes a
    description of several aerostat and airship efforts underway, but it
    does not specifically cover how or whether aerostats and airships
    could contribute to DOD’s force structure.

Strategic frameworks and planning efforts can be essential to the
effective oversight of portfolios, especially when they consist of multiple
types of acquisitions in various stages of development, production,
fielding, and sustainment. Such planning can help ensure DOD has the
proper mix of platforms and a balanced investment portfolio among
technology development, acquisitions, production, and sustainment
activities, and thereby avoid unnecessary overlap in and duplication of
effort. Adding aerostats and airships to the mix of other investments
would add to the complexity of planning and oversight of relevant
portfolios, but doing so could help to make (1) determinations of how
aerostats and airships compare to other efforts and (2) effective trade-off
decisions based on their capabilities and costs.




14
  Because of classification issues, we are not reporting on the extent to which DOD’s most
recent ISR Integration Roadmap includes LTA platforms. However, we reported in
GAO-11-465 that this roadmap does not represent an integrated investment strategy of
ISR efforts across the department. Consequently, DOD was not able to readily identify all
of its urgent needs efforts—that include aerostats or airships—or associated costs,
including spending on ISR, because it had limited visibility into the entirety of the urgent
needs submitted by warfighters.




Page 20                                                    GAO-13-81 Defense Acquisitions
Coordination Efforts      Since 2007, DOD significantly increased its investment in airship and
Limited Mainly to         aerostat efforts, in large part to respond to the urgent warfighter ISR
Technical Collaboration   needs in Iraq and Afghanistan, but also to demonstrate LTA technologies
                          and deliver new capabilities. As a result, numerous organizations
                          throughout DOD have pursued aerostat and airship development and
                          acquisition efforts. For example, the Army oversees and manages the
                          GARP testbed, JLENS, LEMV, and some high altitude airship efforts; the
                          Air Force manages TARS; DARPA and the Air Force are responsible for
                          ISIS; the Navy undertook Star Light and is currently responsible for PGSS
                          and AAFL; and the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for
                          Research and Engineering is responsible for Project Pelican. Given the
                          wide variety of efforts, DOD has taken some positive steps to coordinate
                          the various aerostat and airship development and acquisition efforts it has
                          underway. However, these efforts have mostly occurred at technical
                          levels where working groups, consisting of technologists from industry
                          and government, collaboratively address technical issues, as opposed to
                          having a higher level authority to ensure coordination is effective. DOD
                          officials identified various examples of these coordination efforts that have
                          taken place among the military services and departments:

                          •   The Army formed a working group in which the U.S. Navy Naval Air
                              Systems Command (which manages the PGSS program) participated
                              to develop plans to merge the PGSS and PTDS aerostat rapid fielding
                              initiatives into a Persistence Surveillance Systems-Tethered program
                              of record. This program of record transition is expected to occur in
                              2014 and should help to ensure effective coordination between the
                              efforts.

                          •   The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Ames
                              Research Center signed an interagency agreement in July 2011 with
                              the DOD Office of the Director of Defense Research and
                              Engineering’s Rapid Reaction Technology Office to develop a
                              prototype airship referred to as Project Pelican. Project Pelican is the
                              U.S. government’s only airship effort to demonstrate ballast-free
                              variable-buoyancy control technology through which the vehicle can
                              control its buoyancy (and therefore go up and down) without the use
                              of ballast and/or ground personnel and ropes. Both agencies agreed
                              to mitigate long-term technical risk by demonstrating this technology.
                              NASA is providing acquisition support services to DOD by overseeing
                              the contractor’s technical efforts and DOD is funding the effort.

                          •   The Air Force and DARPA are currently collaborating on the ISIS
                              project. A February 2009 memorandum of agreement between the Air



                          Page 21                                          GAO-13-81 Defense Acquisitions
    Force and DARPA outlines their respective roles, responsibilities, and
    development objectives. The project involves developing a large radar
    aperture that is integrated into the structure of a station-keeping
    stratospheric airship supporting wide-area persistent surveillance,
    tracking, and engagement of ground, maritime, air, and space targets.
    DARPA is providing program management, technical direction,
    security management, and contracting support. The Air Force is
    providing resources for program management, demonstration efforts,
    equipment, and base operations and support. Additionally, the project
    has used lessons learned from the Army’s HALE-D project, as they
    are both designed to operate at a high altitude. However, ISIS is
    unique in that the radar system is integrated into the airship’s
    platform—the radar is part of the airship structure.

•   LEMV coordination is occurring among various Army organizations
    and military services and agencies. For example, the Army obtained
    lessons learned and best practices for its development of LEMV by
    leveraging the Navy’s AAFL program and the Army’s HALE-D effort,
    and the Navy developed flight-to-ground operational procedures for
    LEMV. Additionally, the Army has had informal coordination with the
    Blue Devil Block 2 effort in the past. For example, originally both
    airships had several diesel engine commonalities (they used the same
    type of engine), and program officials shared challenges and solutions
    they discovered as part of the process to modify the engines to meet
    their respective requirements.

•   The Navy’s AAFL serves as a flying laboratory and risk reduction test-
    bed for sensors and other components and has assisted the Air Force
    with its Blue Devil Block 2 airship development. In 2011, the Air Force
    provided funding to the Navy to provide training to airship pilots to
    qualify them to fly the Blue Devil Block 2 airship.

While these efforts indicate some military services and organizations are
sharing lessons learned and technical solutions, DOD may be able to
realize additional opportunities for coordination within the agency and
throughout the government. For example, DOD officials told us that
coordination between the LEMV and Blue Devil Block 2 projects and
opportunities to share lessons learned had been limited because of their
concurrent and accelerated development pace. Also, according to a U.S.
Central Command official, information sharing between the PTDS and




Page 22                                         GAO-13-81 Defense Acquisitions
                            PGSS efforts has been limited, because the efforts are managed by
                            different services, in areas such as test reports and operational impacts
                            resulting from adverse weather. 15 According to this official, better sharing
                            of information could help to inform solutions for making aerostats more
                            survivable. PGSS and PTDS program officials stated that the respective
                            programs have steadily increased information sharing (including daily
                            system status reports, aerostat incident reports, contracting information,
                            budgets, and training programs of instruction) and collaboration on
                            common aerostat issues (such as in-theater force protection for system
                            operators, helium supply priorities, aerostat safety and weather
                            information, and staff and crew tactical training).


Potential Duplication       The shortcomings in planning, insight, and collaboration may have made
Ended with Termination of   some airship efforts susceptible to duplication. We identified two airship
Airship Effort              development efforts—LEMV and Blue Devil Block 2—that were potentially
                            duplicative at the time of our review. However, the potential duplication
                            ended when the Air Force terminated the Blue Devil Block 2 program in
                            June 2012. Most of the desired capabilities for LEMV and Blue Devil
                            Block 2 were similar, as shown in table 3. According to DOD officials,
                            these two programs were expected to demonstrate ISR capabilities;
                            however, they are two different types of vehicles with different design
                            objectives. LEMV is a hybrid airship demonstration that is developing a
                            new platform and the Blue Devil Block 2 was a conventional airship that
                            was to place sensors on a mature commercial-based platform. However,
                            both were expected to have the capability to conduct ISR missions at low
                            altitude, and share other operational characteristics. For example, both
                            airships were to operate at the same operational altitude of 20,000 feet,
                            were expected to handle a payload weight capacity of 2,500 pounds, and
                            shared some of the same types of sensors. The two airship efforts also
                            were being developed concurrently and were expected to be deployed to
                            Afghanistan for testing and operations around the same time.




                            15
                              The U.S. Central Command has a specific area of responsibility that covers 20 countries
                            in the central area of the globe, including Afghanistan, Bahrain, Iran, and Iraq. U.S.
                            Central Command is currently assessing how these assets are used differently across the
                            military bases. Aerostats are vulnerable to adverse weather conditions in Iraq and
                            especially Afghanistan. From April 2010 to June 2012, there were 58 PGSS and PTDS
                            weather related major incidents.




                            Page 23                                                  GAO-13-81 Defense Acquisitions
                          Table 2: Comparison of LEMV and Blue Devil Block 2 Capabilities as of June 2012a

                                                                                  Long Endurance
                                                                                  Multi-Intelligence
                              Airships                                                      Vehicleb     Blue Devil Block 2
                              Payload weight capacity (pounds)                                 2,500                    2,500
                                                                                                    c
                              Operational altitude (feet above mean sea                      20,000                    20,000
                              level)
                              Envelope volume (cubic feet)                                1,342,000                 1,400,000
                              Sensor type
                              Electro-optical/infrared full motion video                            x                          x
                              cameras
                              Wide area surveillance sensor                                                                    x
                              Signals intelligence sensor                                           x                          x
                              Ground motion target indicator radar                                  x
                              Communications relay system                                           x                          x
                          Source: GAO analysis of DOD data.
                          a
                              The Air Force terminated Blue Devil Block 2 in June 2012.
                          b
                           According to the LEMV program office, the payload is flexible, as LEMV sensors are interchangeable
                          based upon mission need.
                          c
                           According to the LEMV program office, the current operational altitude requirement is 16,000 feet
                          above mean sea level.




DOD Is Bolstering Its     The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012 directed the
Oversight and             Secretary of Defense to designate a senior official with principal
Coordination but Future   responsibility for DOD’s airship programs. 16 In June 2012, the Deputy
                          Secretary of Defense designated the Assistant Secretary of Defense for
Investments Are Not
                          Research and Engineering as the senior official who will be responsible
Known                     for the oversight and coordination of various airship-related programs
                          across DOD. The statutory direction and appointment of the senior official
                          are positive steps, but it is too early to assess the effectiveness of this
                          official’s authorities and responsibilities in integrating and overseeing
                          these activities. As of August 2012, the Office of the Assistant Secretary
                          of Defense for Research and Engineering was defining the details relating
                          to the authority, scope, and responsibilities of this new position. The
                          overarching direction by the Deputy Secretary of Defense, in accordance
                          with the statutory mandate, provides the senior official with authority over



                          16
                               Pub. L. No. 112-81, § 903 (2011).




                          Page 24                                                           GAO-13-81 Defense Acquisitions
              airship-related efforts. Because aerostat efforts respond to some of the
              same warfighter requirements as airships, such as for persistent ISR, and
              share some of the same technologies used in airship development efforts,
              such as materials, design, and fabrication, common oversight of both
              airships and aerostats could enable DOD to have better visibility over all
              of its aerostat and airship efforts and help to ensure these efforts are
              effectively overseen, planned, and coordinated.

              While DOD’s overall investment in this area has totaled nearly $7 billion in
              the past 6 years, near term funding estimates sharply decline beyond
              fiscal year 2012 and the level of future investment beyond fiscal year
              2016 is not known. Until DOD makes the decisions regarding its
              investments in this area, the proper role of the senior oversight official will
              not be known. If DOD decides to make significant future investments in
              aerostat and airship capabilities, the senior official could play a key role in
              shaping those investments. If no future investments are anticipated, the
              role of the senior official may necessarily be focused more narrowly on
              the systems that are fielded or already in development.


              Aerostat and airship platforms are not a new concept, but they have
Conclusions   recently been embraced in DOD because of their potential to provide
              continuous coverage capabilities quickly, especially in current military
              operations. Consequently, numerous organizations throughout DOD have
              pursued aerostat and airship development and acquisition efforts. DOD
              quickly initiated some of the larger programs with an eye toward
              leveraging commercial technologies and delivering capabilities to
              warfighters quickly to support current operations. But this rush came with
              high acquisition risk—particularly since there was a lack of knowledge
              about the amount of modifications and technology development that was
              required. Moreover, DOD’s limited oversight to ensure coordination of all
              of these efforts has resulted in ineffective integration of capabilities into
              broader strategic frameworks and limited investment knowledge and
              collaboration, making them susceptible to duplication. The appointment of
              the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering as the
              senior official responsible for the oversight and coordination of various
              airship-related programs is a positive step, but the role of the position
              remains to be clearly defined. Yet, the future is uncertain; at this point, no
              substantive investment is planned for aerostat and airship capabilities. If
              significant future investment is planned, the senior official could play a
              valuable role in shaping investments, ensuring they maximize return by
              integrating them into broader plans so that their capabilities can be
              leveraged and not unnecessarily duplicative.


              Page 25                                            GAO-13-81 Defense Acquisitions
                      To address shortcomings in oversight to improve coordination, we
Recommendations for   recommend that the Secretary of Defense take the following three actions
Executive Action      based on the extent of the department’s future investments in aerostats
                      and airships.

                      •   If DOD decides to curtail future investment, focus on ensuring that it
                          has an inventory and knowledge of all current and planned efforts in
                          the short term.

                      •   If DOD decides to significantly increase future investment, include
                          aerostat and airship capabilities in strategic frameworks to ensure
                          visibility into and coordination with relevant efforts, guide innovation,
                          and prioritize investments.

                      •   Ensure the roles and responsibilities of the Assistant Secretary of
                          Defense for Research and Engineering, as the senior official
                          responsible for the oversight and coordination of various airship-
                          related programs, are defined and commensurate with the level of
                          future investment.


                      We provided a draft copy of this report to DOD, DHS, and NASA for
Agency Comments       comment. In written comments on a draft of this report, DOD concurred
and Our Evaluation    with all three of our recommendations to address shortcomings in
                      oversight to improve coordination of aerostat and airship development
                      and acquisition efforts. DHS and NASA did not have formal comments on
                      the draft report. Additionally, DOD, DHS, and NASA provided technical
                      comments which were incorporated as appropriate.

                      DOD’s written comments are reprinted in appendix V.




                      Page 26                                            GAO-13-81 Defense Acquisitions
We are sending copies of this report to appropriate congressional
committees, the Secretaries of Defense and Homeland Security, and the
Administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. In
addition, the report will be available at no charge on GAO’s website at
http://www.gao.gov.

If you have any questions about this report, please contact me at
(202) 512-4841 or chaplainc@gao.gov. Contact points for our Offices of
Congressional Relations and Public Affairs may be found on the last page
of this report. Key contributors to this report are provided in appendix VI.




Cristina T. Chaplain
Director
Acquisition and Sourcing Management




Page 27                                          GAO-13-81 Defense Acquisitions
Appendix I: Scope and Methodology
             Appendix I: Scope and Methodology




             To determine what key aerostat and airship systems across the federal
             government are being developed and acquired, including funding,
             purpose, and status of these systems, we reviewed documentation and
             interviewed officials on the status and progress of aerostat and airship
             development efforts in areas such as requirements, funding, costs,
             budgets, schedule, contracting, technology maturation, and actual or
             planned operational characteristics. In doing so, we developed an
             inventory of key airship and aerostat development and acquisition efforts
             which enabled a comparison of platform types, performance attributes,
             and costs. As part of identifying the universe of aerostat and airship
             efforts in the federal government, we interviewed agency officials and
             asked them about any knowledge they have regarding other systems that
             may currently exist. We also conducted Federal Procurement Data
             System—Next Generation (FPDS-NG) database and internet searches to
             inform ourselves about existing efforts; the internet searches included
             unclassified searches and background research. We corroborated and
             confirmed the accuracy of the FPDS-NG and internet search information
             with applicable agencies. Based on a review of funding data collected
             from agencies that we contacted as well as from presidential budget
             estimates and Selected Acquisition Reports as available, we determined
             that our definition of “key aerostat and airship systems being planned,
             developed, and acquired” includes two key criteria (1) total funding of $1
             million or more from fiscal years 2007 to 2012, and (2) efforts to plan,
             develop or acquire systems that include both a platform and payload
             (such as sensors or cargo) capability. We analyzed documentation and
             interviewed officials from various offices of the Secretary of Defense;
             various offices within the Army, Navy, and Air Force; U.S. Central
             Command; Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency; Defense
             Logistics Agency; and offices of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. We also
             analyzed documentation and interviewed officials from civil agencies,
             including the Department of Homeland Security, Department of Energy,
             Environmental Protection Agency, National Oceanic and Atmospheric
             Administration, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and
             Office of the Director of National Intelligence. We did not examine the
             development and utilization of lighter-than-air (LTA) technologies outside
             of the federal government.

             To identify any technical challenges these key aerostat and airship efforts
             may be facing, we analyzed documentation and interviewed officials from
             the organizations mentioned above. We used the collected information to
             assess any identified technical problems impacting the funding, cost,
             schedule, and performance of airships and aerostats.



             Page 28                                         GAO-13-81 Defense Acquisitions
Appendix I: Scope and Methodology




To determine how effectively the various key aerostat and airship efforts
are being overseen to ensure coordination, and identify any potential for
duplication, we assessed aerostat and airship investments, acquisitions,
capabilities, and operations by analyzing documents and interviewing
officials from the organizations listed above, analyzing the inventory of
key efforts developed under our first objective, and reviewing prior GAO
work for relevant criteria. Specifically, we assessed oversight at the
programmatic and enterprise levels by reviewing organizational roles,
responsibilities, and authorities as they relate to aerostat and airship
development, acquisition, and operations efforts. We also determined the
extent to which plans and planning activities integrated aerostat and
airship development and acquisition efforts and capabilities within the
Department of Defense (DOD). Reviewed plans and planning activities
included architectures, roadmaps, investment plans, and requirements
development. We also used the information relating to various aspects of
the development and acquisition efforts, such as requirements, and actual
or planned performance attributes, to assess whether any of the efforts
are potentially duplicative.

We conducted this performance audit from June 2011 to October 2012 in
accordance with generally accepted government auditing standards.
Those standards require that we plan and perform the audit to obtain
sufficient, appropriate evidence to provide reasonable basis for findings
and conclusions based on our audit objectives. We believe that the
evidence obtained provides a reasonable basis for our findings and
conclusions based on our audit objectives.




Page 29                                        GAO-13-81 Defense Acquisitions
Appendix II: Examples of Civil Government
                                             Appendix II: Examples of Civil Government
                                             Use of Aerostats



Use of Aerostats

Table 3: Civil Government Agencies’ Aerostat Usage

Essentials                                    Purpose and status
Lead agency: Department of Commerce           The purpose of DOC’s NOAA aerostats is to collect wind data up to approximately 1,641
(DOC), National Oceanic and Atmospheric       feet above the ground. NOAA procured the aerostats, ground station, and supporting
Administration (NOAA)                         equipment in September 2011.
Number of units: 2
Total costs: $35,475
Lead agency: Department of Energy (DOE),      Over the past 20 years, DOE’s Office of Science has supported a national scientific user
Office of Science                             facility called the Atmospheric Radiation Measurement Climate Research Facility, which
Number of units: 1                            is a unique system for continuous observations, capturing fundamental data on
                                              atmospheric radiation, cloud and aerosol properties. Since fiscal year 2010, DOE’s
Fiscal year (FY) 10 to FY12 operations and    Office of Science has funded the use of a contracted aerostat to support research
maintenance costs: $275,529                   carried out through the Atmospheric Radiation Measurement Climate Research Facility.


Lead agency: Environmental Protection         In 2009 EPA developed a tethered, aerostat-lofted sampling package for the purpose of
Agency (EPA)                                  sampling air emissions from open sources. Multiple aerostats have been purchased to
Number of units: 5                            support increasing payloads. EPA’s program has been largely funded through a project
                                              with DOD’s Strategic Environmental Research and Development Program to
FY09 to FY11 aerostats and equipment          characterize emissions from open burning and open detonation of military ordnance.
purchase costs: $35,135                       EPA will continue its emissions monitoring program using aerostats only if it can secure
                                              additional funding. Otherwise, the program will cease to exist.
Lead agency: National Aeronautics and         According to NASA, they occasionally fund research that deploys tethered balloons for
Space Administration (NASA)                   atmospheric and weather observations. Also, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Number of units: For the most part, NASA      continues to use tethered balloons for climate research. NASA plans to continue funding
does not own aerostats, but funds research    atmospheric and weather research using tethered balloons. For example, in fiscal year
using them                                    2013, NASA plans to fund atmospheric and weather research that will use two tethered
                                              balloons in Yen Bai, Vietnam. Furthermore, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center’s
Costs: NASA reported funding a total of       Wallops Flight Facility owns and operates small commercially produced tethered blimps
$150,000 for research using aerostats and     (advertising type) within the restricted airspace over Wallops Island. These aerostat
approximately $35,000 for aerostats at the    systems are used for visibility markers during range operations and for lifting miniature
Wallops Flight Facility                       experimental instrument packages.
                                             Source: GAO analysis of U.S. government data.




                                             Page 30                                                   GAO-13-81 Defense Acquisitions
Appendix III: DOD Aerostat and Airship
                                            Appendix III: DOD Aerostat and Airship
                                            Development, Acquisition, and Operations
                                            Efforts


Development, Acquisition, and Operations
Efforts
Table 4: Aerostat and Airships Essentials, Purpose, and Status

Essentialsa                                            Purpose and status
Aerostats
Name: Geospatial Airship Research Platform             According to an official from the Army’s U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense
(GARP)                                                 Command Battle Laboratory, the facility uses GARP as a testing platform for
Lead service/agency: Army                              intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) and communications
                                                       payloads.
Prime contractor: Aerostar and Lindstrand
Technologies
Total number of operational contractor personnel:
8; 4 each for launch operation
Number of units: 2
Operational altitude
(feet above mean sea level): Up to 3,000 above
ground level
Sensor type: various, including electro-optical,
infrared, and spectral cameras; radars; and
communication relay payloads
Fiscal Year (FY) 08-FY10 costs: $9.4 million
Name: Joint Land Attack Cruise Missile Defense         The Army’s JLENS major defense acquisition program, established in 1996 as
Elevated Netted Sensor (JLENS)                         the Joint Aerostat Project, will provide over-the-horizon detection and tracking
Lead service/agency: Army                              of land-attack cruise missiles and other targets. The Army is developing
                                                       JLENS in two spirals. Spiral 1 is complete and served as a test bed to
Prime contractor: Raytheon                             demonstrate the concept. Spiral 2 will utilize two aerostats with advanced
Total number of operational contractor personnel:      sensors for surveillance and tracking, as well as mobile mooring stations,
not applicable, because system is not yet fielded      communications payloads, and processing stations. JLENS will provide
Number of units: 2                                     surveillance and engagement support to other systems.
Operational altitude                                   JLENS entered the system development phase in August 2005. As we
                                                       previously reported, the program has experienced design issues associated
(feet above mean sea level): 10,000
                                                       with the mobile mooring transport vehicle, as well as schedule delays caused
Sensor type: radars                                    by synchronization of JLENS with the Army’s Integrated Air and Missile
FY07-FY16 costs:                                       Defense program. According to program acquisition documentation, JLENS
$2,555.6 million                                       was originally scheduled to enter production in September 2010. However,
                                                       that same month, an aerostat accident resulted in the loss of one of the
                                                       JLENS platforms. The accident, as well as recent system integration
                                                       challenges, caused delays to the program’s production decision. Moreover,
                                                       according to program acquisition documentation, the JLENS program incurred
                                                       a critical Nunn-McCurdy breach for program acquisition unit cost with the
                                                       submission of the fiscal year 2013 President’s Budget due to a 100 percent
                                                       reduction in planned procurement quantities. The total program quantity was
                                                       reduced from 16 to 2 aerostats. In May 2012, the Under Secretary of Defense
                                                       for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics directed the Secretary of the Army to
                                                       restructure the JLENS program to consist of two aerostats. The Secretary of
                                                       the Army was also directed to provide a status of the program, based on
                                                       development test and evaluation results, during an interim program review
                                                       scheduled for the third quarter of fiscal year 2013.




                                            Page 31                                                    GAO-13-81 Defense Acquisitions
                                            Appendix III: DOD Aerostat and Airship
                                            Development, Acquisition, and Operations
                                            Efforts




Essentialsa                                            Purpose and status
Name: Persistent Ground Surveillance System            The Office of the Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and
(PGSS)                                                 Logistics initiated PGSS in fiscal year 2010 as a joint capability technology
Lead service/agency: Navy                              demonstration in response to a series of commanders’ urgent requests for
                                                       additional ISR support in Afghanistan. PGSS is intended to provide a family of
Prime contractor: Aerostar and TCOM                    affordable and small footprint aerostat surveillance systems.
Total number of operational contractor personnel:      A total of 59 PGSS aerostats have been purchased by the Navy for
400; 7 to 8 contractors needed per site                deployment to forward operating bases in Afghanistan: 31 were built in fiscal
Number of units: 59                                    year 2010, and 28 in fiscal year 2011. Although the Navy acquires and
Operational altitude                                   operates PGSS aerostats, the Army funds the program and has proposed its
                                                       inclusion in a new program of record—named Persistent Surveillance System-
(feet above mean sea level): 6,000 to 9,000
                                                       Tethered (PSST). A capability development document for PSST should be
Sensor type: electro-optical/ infrared sensors;        finalized by the end of the summer. According to DOD, PGSS aerostats
unattended transient acoustic measurement and          deployed in the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility have been
signatures intelligence sensor, wide-area sensor       effective ISR assets.
system, and communications relay system
FY09-FY13 costs: $2,108.4 million
Name: Persistent Threat Detection System (PTDS)        Like the PGSS aerostats, PTDS aerostats were deployed (to Iraq in 2004 and
Lead service/agency: Army                              Afghanistan in 2007) in response to a series of commanders’ urgent requests
                                                       for additional ISR support. However, PTDS is a bigger system than PGSS that
Prime contractor: Lockheed Martin                      is practically immobile. The Army plans to have a total of 66 PTDS aerostats;
Total number of operational contractor personnel:      34 have been deployed to Afghanistan, one is used for testing in the United
About 650; 8 to 10 contractors needed per site         States, and the remainder are in production or in transit for use in Afghanistan.
Number of units: 66                                    According to DOD, PTDS aerostats deployed in the U.S. Central Command
                                                       area of responsibility have been effective ISR assets. Like PGSS, the Army
Operational altitude
                                                       also proposed PTDS for inclusion in the PSST program of record. However,
(feet above mean sea level): 8,000                     the Army is expected to keep the PGSS aerostats and phase out PTDS. Upon
Sensor type: electro-optical/ infrared cameras,        completion of operations in Afghanistan, the Army is considering deploying a
unattended transient acoustic measurement and          few PTDS for training and for use by the Department of Homeland Security
signatures intelligence sensor, ground moving          (DHS).
target indicator/dismount moving target indicator
radar, and a wide-area sensor system
FY07-FY16 costs: $3,170.5 million
Name: Rapid Aerostat Initial Development (RAID)        The RAID aerostats were first deployed to Afghanistan in 2001 to provide
Lead service/agency: Army                              force protection in response to an urgent need request. However, due its small
                                                       size, it was never ideal for use in inclement weather. As a result, the Army
Prime contractor: Raytheon                             acquired a larger aerostat—PTDS. The Army procured a total of 21 RAID
Total number of operational contractor personnel:      aerostats—19 were deployed to Iraq and 2 were used as training assets in the
252                                                    United States. The 19 RAID aerostats deployed to Iraq were moved to Kuwait
Number of units: 21                                    and are no longer in use.
Operational altitude
(feet above mean sea level): 1,000 above ground
level
Sensor type: thermal imaging sensors
FY07-FY16 costs: $225.0 million




                                            Page 32                                                    GAO-13-81 Defense Acquisitions
                                             Appendix III: DOD Aerostat and Airship
                                             Development, Acquisition, and Operations
                                             Efforts




Essentialsa                                             Purpose and status
Name: Rapidly Elevated Aerostat Platform (REAP)-        The Army needed a smaller aerostat for persistent surveillance during short
XL B                                                    duration missions, for example, to rebuild a bridge, or at a polling location
Lead service/agency: Army and Navy                      during elections, in response to an urgent need request. REAP-XL B can be
                                                        launched from the back of a High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle
Prime contractor: Information Systems Laboratories      (Humvee) by two people in 10 minutes. The Navy tested a REAP-XL B
Total number of operational contractor personnel:       platform as an extended communications relay system that can be operated
Army: 4, 2 per unit; Navy: unknown                      from shore to reduce testing and integration costs.
Number of units: 3                                      Two REAP-XL B prototype aerostats were deployed to Afghanistan. According
Operational altitude                                    to an Army official, officials from U.S. Central Command and the Army are
                                                        conducting a 90-day assessment of REAP-XL’s operational performance.
(feet above mean sea level): Army: 1,000 above
                                                        Although it is too early to determine if REAP-XL will be part of a program of
ground level; Navy: Up to 1,000
                                                        record, as many as 35 more could be acquired if it is determined that they can
Sensor type: Army: electro-optical/infrared/short       operate in Afghanistan’s high altitude, according to an Army Intelligence
wave infrared cameras; Navy: communication              Futures Directorate official. The Navy’s REAP-XL B aerostat is currently in
equipment                                               storage, according to the Navy.
Navy Working Capital Fund Capital Investment
Program FY 10 costs: $668,000
Army: FY 11 costs: $4.7 million
Name: Tethered Aerostat Radar System (TARS)             The TARS aerostat radar network began operations identifying low-flying,
Lead service/agency: Air Force                          small aircraft involved in drug trafficking along the southern U.S. border in
                                                        1978. Currently, there are eight operational TARS sites supporting DOD’s
Current sustainment service contractor: ITT             counterdrug detection and monitoring mission, as well as North American
Systems                                                 Aerospace Defense Command’s air sovereignty mission. TARS sites are
Total number of operational contractor personnel:       treated as remote surveillance sensor sources. Surveillance data from each
approximately 249 at 8 operational sites, logistics     radar is transmitted to DOD and DHS operations centers.
center, and program management office                   TARS is in the operational sustainment phase of the acquisition life-cycle and
Number of units: 8                                      there are currently no plans to replace, augment, or complement its baseline
Operational altitude                                    capabilities. DHS is funding science and technology research that could
                                                        enhance future TARS sensor imaging capabilities.
(feet above mean sea level): 14,000 to 15,000
depending on model type
Sensor type: radars and communication systems
FY07-FY16 costs: $350.0 million
Airships
Name: Advanced Airship Flying Laboratory (AAFL)         Since 2007, the surrogate test-bed airship has been used across the country
Lead service/agency: Navy                               to evaluate a variety of DOD and other U.S. government sensor and
                                                        communication systems (including intelligence, surveillance, and
Prime contractor: Integrated Systems Solutions,         reconnaissance (ISR) assets) in an airborne environment. The airship also
Inc.                                                    assisted in the search for oil and distressed wildlife during the 2010
Total number of operational contractor personnel:       Deepwater Horizon disaster.
20                                                      The Navy is conducting pilot training in the United States in support of Army
Number of units: 1                                      programs. The Army has provided sufficient funding for continued operations
Operational altitude (feet above mean sea level):       through March 2013.
1,000 to 7,500
Sensor type: AAFL operates as a surrogate test-
bed for various communications and sensor
systems
FY07-FY12 costs: $14.1 million




                                             Page 33                                                   GAO-13-81 Defense Acquisitions
                                             Appendix III: DOD Aerostat and Airship
                                             Development, Acquisition, and Operations
                                             Efforts




Essentialsa                                             Purpose and status
Name: Blue Devil Block 2                                A contract was awarded in October 2010 to begin the Blue Devil Block 2
Lead service/agency: Air Force                          airship development initiative in response to U.S. Central Command urgent
                                                        requirements for ISR capabilities to address the growing need for persistent
Prime contractor: MAV6                                  improvised explosive device surveillance and detection in Afghanistan. The
Total number of operational contractor personnel:       Blue Devil Block 2 airship is intended to demonstrate persistent multi-
to be determined                                        intelligence ISR capabilities for 3 to 7 days, at an altitude of 20,000 feet.
Number of units: 1                                      The program was terminated effective June 2012. It had been scheduled to
Operational altitude (feet above mean sea level):       deploy “beyond September 2012,” at least one year later than originally
20,000                                                  scheduled. However, the contractor has been directed to pack and crate the
                                                        airframe and transport it to an Air Force storage facility at the end of the
Sensor type: Wide area field of view electro-optical
                                                        contract period. As a result, the Air Force will not deploy the Blue Devil Block
and infrared cameras; narrow field of view electro-
                                                        2 airship to Afghanistan as planned.
optical and infrared full motion video cameras; and
signals intelligence sensor
FY10-FY12 costs: $243.6 million
Name: High Altitude Endurance-Demonstrator              HALE-D is a science and technology effort that is part of the Army’s High
(HALE-D)                                                Altitude Airship program, intended to demonstrate persistent on-station ISR
Lead service/agency: Army                               capabilities at high altitudes. A solar powered airship, HALE-D is supposed to
                                                        fly at an altitude of 60,000 feet for more than 14 days.
Prime contractor: Lockheed Martin
                                                        In July 2011, on its first flight, HALE-D experienced a technical failure 3 hours
Total number of operational contractor personnel:       into a planned 14-day mission. Its envelope and solar cells were destroyed,
not applicable, HALE-D is a science and technology      and its payload was damaged by a fire during recovery operations. According
effort                                                  to the program office, the project does not currently have funding for continued
Number of units: 1                                      demonstration efforts.
Operational altitude (feet above mean sea level):
60,000
Sensor type: high resolution electro-optical camera
FY08-FY11 costs: $36.3 million
Name: HiSentinel                                        Like HALE-D, HiSentinel is a science and technology effort that is part of the
Lead service/agency: Army                               Army’s High Altitude Airship program, intended to demonstrate persistent on-
                                                        station ISR capabilities at high altitudes. Specifically, both HiSentinel 50 and
Prime contractor: Southwest Research Institute          80 are solar-powered airships intended to fly at altitudes of approximately
Total number of operational contractor personnel:       66,000 feet for greater than one day. They are both in a flaccid state on the
not applicable, HiSentinel is a science and             ground prior to launch and the envelopes achieve their final shape as the
technology effort                                       helium gas within expands with increasing altitudes.
Number of units: 2; HiSentinel50 and HiSentinel80       In June 2008, HiSentinel50 flew up to an altitude of 66,400 feet, and
Operational altitude (feet above mean sea level):       maintained that altitude for a total of 3 minutes. In November 2010, the follow-
HiSentinel50: 66,300; HiSentinel80: 66,000              on demonstrator, HiSentinel80, experienced a propulsion system failure and
                                                        landed 8 hours into a planned 24-hour mission. Like Hale-D, the program
Sensor type: HiSentinel50: High resolution camera
                                                        office stated that the project does not currently have funding for continued
and communication system; HiSentinel80: Hi-
                                                        demonstration efforts.
resolution electro-optical camera and
communications system
FY07-FY11 costs: $11.2 million




                                             Page 34                                                     GAO-13-81 Defense Acquisitions
                                            Appendix III: DOD Aerostat and Airship
                                            Development, Acquisition, and Operations
                                            Efforts




Essentialsa                                            Purpose and status
Name: Integrated Sensor is Structure (ISIS)            The joint DARPA and Air Force ISIS project, initiated in 2004 as a science and
Lead service/agency: Defense Advanced Research         technology effort, is intended to develop and demonstrate a radar sensor of
Projects Agency (DARPA) and Air Force                  unprecedented proportions that is fully integrated into a stratospheric airship
                                                       to support the need for persistent wide-area surveillance, tracking, and
Prime contractor: Lockheed Martin                      engagement of time-critical air and ground targets in urban and rural
Total number of operational contractor personnel:      environments. The demonstrator airship is expected to fly for 365 days at an
not applicable, ISIS is a demonstration prototype      altitude of 65,000 feet. ISIS has experienced technical challenges stemming
Number of units: 1                                     from subsystem development and radar antennae panel manufacturing.
                                                       Consequently, earlier this year DARPA temporarily delayed airframe
Operational altitude (feet above mean sea level):
                                                       development activities, and instead will mainly focus on radar risk reduction
65,000
                                                       activities. During this time period, the ISIS team will develop an airship risk
Sensor type: air, ground, and surface moving target    reduction plan and conduct limited airship activities. Based on the radar and
indicator radar system                                 airship risk reduction studies, DARPA will reassess the future plan for ISIS
FY07-FY14 costs: $506.1 million                        with the Air Force.
Name: Long Endurance Multi-Intelligence Vehicle        LEMV is a technology demonstration project, expected to develop a hybrid
(LEMV)                                                 prototype airship for ISR purposes in a forward combat environment. The
Lead service/agency: Army                              project was initiated in response to an urgent need request. The Army is
                                                       supposed to complete system level development and testing within the United
Prime contractor: Northrop Grumman                     States within 18 months after contract award (June 2010) and be ready for
Total number of operational contractor personnel:      transport to Afghanistan for a joint military utility assessment and follow-on
35                                                     demonstration. The required on-station duration time is 21 days at an altitude
Number of units: 1                                     of 20,000 feet. Pending the results of the joint military utility assessment and
                                                       other reviews and evaluations, the Army will determine whether or not to
Operational altitude (feet above mean sea level):
                                                       pursue a program of record.
20,000
                                                       According to the program office, the LEMV hybrid airship is scheduled to
Sensor type: Electro-optical/infrared full motion
                                                       undergo 33 manned flights totaling approximately 500 hours. The Army
video cameras; ground motion target indicator
                                                       successfully launched and recovered LEMV during its first flight in August
radar; communication relay package; and signal
                                                       2012. The initial date for deployment was January 2012; currently, the
intelligence system. According to the LEMV
                                                       deployment date is indefinite. LEMV development is behind schedule 10
program office, the payload is flexible based upon
                                                       months (representing about a 56 percent schedule increase) due to issues
mission need as LEMV sensors are
                                                       with fabric production, getting foreign parts through customs, adverse weather
interchangeable, based upon mission need.
                                                       conditions causing the evacuation of work crews, and first time integration and
FY07-FY15 costs: $356.2 million                        testing issues. Also, LEMV is 12,000 pounds overweight because it has
                                                       weight issues with sub-systems, such as tailfins, exceeding weight thresholds.
                                                       According to the program, the increased weight reduces the airship’s
                                                       estimated on-station endurance at an altitude of 20,000 feet from the required
                                                       21 days to 4 to 5 days, representing at least a 76 percent reduction However,
                                                       current plans, according to program officials, call for operating the airship at
                                                       16,000, feet which should enable on-station duration time to be 16 days with
                                                       minimal impacts to operational effectiveness (other than about a 24 percent
                                                       reduction to on-station endurance). The biggest risk to program development
                                                       is the ambitious schedule of 18 months. The Army identified a fiscal year 2012
                                                       funding shortfall of $21.3 million resulting from the need for additional
                                                       engineering and production support to mitigate and resolve technical issues at
                                                       the LEMV assembly facility.




                                            Page 35                                                    GAO-13-81 Defense Acquisitions
                                            Appendix III: DOD Aerostat and Airship
                                            Development, Acquisition, and Operations
                                            Efforts




Essentialsa                                                Purpose and status
Name: Project Pelican                                      According to OASDR&E program officials, Project Pelican was initiated in
Lead service/agency: Office of the Assistant               2008 as a science and technology demonstration effort intended to develop a
Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering          hybrid airship with a rigid internal structure and test airship buoyancy control
(OASDR&E), National Aeronautics and Space                  technologies. NASA’s Ames Research Center, the contract servicing agent for
Administration (NASA), and the Air Force Research          OASDR&E, and the Air Force Research Laboratory are also involved in the
Laboratory                                                 management and oversight of this project that, according to the NASA Ames
                                                           Research Center program office, “is considered a game changer in the airship
Prime contractor: Aeros Aeronautical Systems               world” because the key effort is to control buoyancy without using external
Corporation                                                ballast. The airship built under Project Pelican is not intended for operational
Total number of operational contractor personnel:          performance beyond the requirements of the demonstration activities. But,
not applicable, the airship is a technology                according to OASDR&E program officials, once all the necessary technologies
demonstrator and is not intended for operational           have been proven to work together, the effort will be scaled to provide ISR or
performance beyond the requirements of the                 heavy lift capabilities in the long-term. According to the NASA Ames Research
demonstration activities                                   Center program office, the Project Pelican demonstrator airship is expected to
Number of units: 1                                         be tested at the end of fiscal year 2012.
Operational altitude (feet above mean sea level):
not applicable, the airship is a technology
demonstrator and is not intended for operational
performance beyond the requirements of the
demonstration activities
Sensor type: not applicable, the airship is a
technology demonstrator and is not intended for
operational performance beyond the requirements
of the demonstration activities
FY08-FY11 costs: $42.4 million
Name: Star Light                                           The Star Light airship, initiated as a science and technology effort, was
Lead service/agency: Navy                                  expected to operate at between 65,000 to 85,000 feet, with an on station
                                                           duration of between 30 to 120 days, depending on the time of year and the
Prime contractor: Global Near Space Services               wind speed. A specific sensor was never identified. The program began and
Total number of operational contractor personnel: 8        was terminated in 2010 due to insufficient funding.
Number of units: 1
Operational altitude (feet above mean sea level):
65,000 to 85,000
Sensor type: no specific sensor was identified
under the demonstration effort
FY10 costs: $2.1 million
                                            Source: GAO analysis of DOD data.
                                            a
                                            Funding data have been adjusted to fiscal year 2012 dollars.




                                            Page 36                                                        GAO-13-81 Defense Acquisitions
Appendix IV: Funding Calculations for
                                               Appendix IV: Funding Calculations for
                                               Aerostats and Airships, Fiscal Years 2007
                                               through 2016


Aerostats and Airships, Fiscal Years 2007
through 2016
Table 5: Total Aerostat Funding, Fiscal Years 2007 through 2016

(In millions of fiscal year 2012 dollars, rounded to nearest tenth)
                                                                       Fiscal year
Effort                           2007      2008      2009       2010    2011      2012      2013     2014     2015     2016       Total
Geospatial Airship                                                                                                                 $9.4
Research Platform
(GARP)
Research,                                   $3.2      $2.9      $3.3
development, test, and
evaluation (RDT&E)
Joint Land Attack                                                                                                              $2,555.6
Cruise Missile
Defense Elevated
Netted Sensor
(JLENS)
RDT&E                          $255.9    $488.6    $357.1     $325.7   $405.1   $327.3     $187.4    $92.4    $30.9    $22.6   $2,493.1
Military Construction                                          $20.5              $42.0                                          $62.5
Persistent Ground                                                                                                              $2,108.4
Surveillance System
(PGSS)
RDT&E                                                 $1.5      $1.5              $20.0                                          $23.1
Procurement                                        $105.7     $454.6   $182.9   $191.0     $182.1                              $1,116.4
Operations and                                        $7.8    $13.68   $163.3   $366.0     $418.3                               $968.9
Maintenance (O&M)
Persistent Threat                                                                                                              $3,170.5
Detection System
(PTDS)
RDT&E                             $0.3      $0.4     $4. 6      $0.0     $0.1                                                      $5.4
Procurement                                $26.3   $299.1     $776.1   $181.9     $28.0     $15.7    $15.5    $17.1    $16.8   $1,376.5
O&M                                        $47.4     $60.9     $79.4   $104.7   $108.0     $339.6   $350.3   $349.3   $349.0   $1,788.6
Rapid Aerostat Initial                                                                                                          $225.0
Development (RAID)
Procurement                       $7.4                                                                                             $7.4
O&M                              $12.2     $20.0     $20.7     $21.6    $22.3     $23.0     $23.6    $24.2    $24.7    $25.3    $217.5
Rapidly Elevated                                                                                                                   $5.3
Aerostat Platform
(REAP)-XL B
Navy Working Capital                                            $0.7
Fund Capital
Investment Program
RDT&E                                                                    $4.7




                                               Page 37                                                   GAO-13-81 Defense Acquisitions
                                               Appendix IV: Funding Calculations for
                                               Aerostats and Airships, Fiscal Years 2007
                                               through 2016




                                                                              Fiscal year
Effort                           2007      2008        2009         2010           2011    2012     2013    2014    2015     2016       Total
Tethered Aerostat                                                                                                                     $350.0
Radar System
(TARS)
RDT&E                                                                $2.0                                                                $2.0
Procurement                       $5.4      $5.4        $7.2         $5.3           $5.4     $5.6    $5.8    $5.5    $2.8     $3.8      $52.3
O&M                              $31.3     $28.9      $28.1        $29.7           $29.5   $29.7    $29.6   $29.3   $29.7    $29.8    $295.7
                                               Source: GAO analysis of DOD data.




Table 6: Total Airship Funding, Fiscal Years 2007 through 2016

(In millions of fiscal year 2012 dollars, rounded to nearest tenth)
                                                                               Fiscal year
Effort                           2007      2008        2009         2010           2011    2012     2013     2014   2015      2016    TOTAL
Advanced Airship                                                                                                                        $14.1
Flying Laboratory
(AAFL, also known
as MZ-3A)
RDT&E                             $0.2                  $0.6        $1.6                                                                 $2.4
O&M                                                                 $6.2                     $5.6                                       $11.7
Blue Devil Block 2                                                                                                                     $243.6
RDT&E                                                              $54.4 $126.2            $63.0                                       $243.6
High Altitude                                                                                                                           $36.3
Endurance-
Demonstrator
(HALE-D)
RDT&E                                     $16.7       $11.5         $5.3           $2.8                                                 $36.3
Hi-Sentinel                                                                                                                             $11.2
RDT&E                             $1.3     $4.1         $0.7        $2.2           $2.8                                                 $11.2
Integrated Sensor is                                                                                                                   $506.1
Structure (ISIS)
RDT&E                           $25.1     $30.5       $81.2 $250.3             $24.1       $60.2    $34.7                              $506.1
Long Endurance                                                                                                                         $356.2
Multi-Intelligence
Vehicle (LEMV)
RDT&E                                                            $130.9 $101.4             $43.6    $25.8   $28.1   $26.5              $356.2
Project Pelican                                                                                                                         $42.4
RDT&E                                      $6.3       $10.9        $14.4       $10.9                                                    $42.4
Starlight                                                                                                                                $2.1
RDT&E                                                               $2.1                                                                 $2.1
                                               Source: GAO analysis of DOD data.




                                               Page 38                                                          GAO-13-81 Defense Acquisitions
Appendix V: Comments from the Department
                    Appendix V: Comments from the Department
                    of Defense



of Defense


The report number
changed from
GAO-12-906 to
GAO-13-81.




                    Page 39                                    GAO-13-81 Defense Acquisitions
Appendix V: Comments from the Department
of Defense




Page 40                                    GAO-13-81 Defense Acquisitions
Appendix V: Comments from the Department
of Defense




Page 41                                    GAO-13-81 Defense Acquisitions
Appendix VI: GAO Contact and Staff
                            Appendix VI: GAO Contact and
                            Staff Acknowledgments



Acknowledgments

                  Cristina T. Chaplain, (202) 512-4841 or chaplainc@gao.gov.
GAO Contact
                  In addition to the contact named above, key contributors to this report
Staff             were Art Gallegos, Assistant Director; Ami Ballenger; Jenny Chanley;
Acknowledgments   Maria Durant; Arturo Holguín; Rich Horiuchi; Julia Kennon; Tim Persons;
                  Sylvia Schatz; Roxanna Sun; and Bob Swierczek.




(121000)
                  Page 42                                       GAO-13-81 Defense Acquisitions
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