• Faces of the Force

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    ‘Army to the Corps’
    Electrical engineer helps change the face of aviation


    By Steve Stark


    The Army’s Ground-Based Sense-and-Avoid System (GBSAA) is the first system of its kind and it’s changing the face of unmanned aviation—and as its deputy product director Mary Ottman is at the heart of the development effort.

    It’s a DOD system that the Army has taken the lead on, specifically within the Army’s Project Management Office for Unmanned Aircraft Systems (PM UAS), and eventually, it’s intended to enable unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to fly without visual observers in commercial airspace controlled by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

    Deputy product director for GBSAA is just one of many jobs that Ottman has held over nearly 25 years working with the Army as a DA civilian. In some respects, the job is a testament to her curiosity and talent, but in another sense, it’s a tribute to the excellent cooperative education program that got Ottman’s foot in the door at the U.S. Army’s Aviation and Missile Research Development and Engineering Center in Redstone Arsenal, Ala., in the first place.

    At a time when September 11 was merely another date, Ottman went to work for the Army on that day in 1989 as a cooperative education student. At the time, she thought that she’d work for the Army for a couple of years before going on to industry, but it didn’t quite work out that way. Indeed, she will celebrate her 25th anniversary as an Army civilian this September.

    “My father and my uncles were all in the military and I know the sacrifices that they made to serve our country.”

    Ottman is, by degree, an electrical engineer with a family legacy of service. Her father served in the Army in Vietnam, and then in the reserves, eventually retiring as a major. He studied nuclear physics and worked in that field in industry, and all the time she was growing up, Ottman said, her dad emphasized education, particularly math and science.

    Initially, “a friend of mine talked to me about pursuing electrical engineering and it sounded interesting—I was waffling between computer science and electrical engineering, but went with electrical engineering,” she said. She earned her bachelor’s from the University of Alabama at Huntsville in electrical and computer engineering.

    When Ottman started working for the Army as a college student in the co-op program, she worked on projects such as transistor-based video electronics design, soldering connections on circuit boards used in the Advanced Kinetic Energy Missile, and then went on to work in software development.

    Viva Kelley, PdD USAIC product director, speaks with Rep. Mo Brooks of Alabama, highlighting the features of the GBSAA prototype system on display during the PM UAS 2 Million Flight Hour Celebration at Redstone Arsenal, Ala. on March 18, 2014. (From the left: Viva Kelly, Rep. Brooks, Lt. Col. Nick Kioutas, Small Unmanned Aerial Systems product manager, Mary Ottman PdD USAIC deputy product director, and Larry Herbek, PdD USAIC systems engineer). (Photo courtesy of Stephanie Johnson)

    “Literally, as a co-op student, you start getting exposure to real-world applications while you’re in school. [The co-op program] is a great way for students to ‘try before you buy,’ so to speak, to get exposure to all the different projects that are going on. They’ve got computers, software simulation, trainers, propulsion—there are many different areas you can get exposure to at the R&D [research and development] center before you decide what kind of job you want to pursue as a career. It’s a win-win for both the student and the Army. For the student, they can figure out what they want to do. As for the Army, they are building that next generation [of talent], and they’re also getting that student labor to work those tasks and free up engineers to do more complex things.”

    “A lot of people think that electrical engineering is home wiring,” she said, laughing. “That’s not it at all. Basically, it’s such a broad field—it’s one of those fields that, in school, you learn a lot of different things, and it depends on what job you get and what you’re interested in” as to where you end up. “So you could end up working at power companies, cell phone companies, in power transmission or you could end up working on circuit boards or semiconductor devices. It’s a versatile degree,” she said. It’s almost like a business degree in the sense that you have a lot of flexibility in terms of where you can go with it. “It really just depends on your interest area.”

    Her timing was excellent—using her training and her curiosity, she found her way into writing software, sometimes at the 1’s and 0’s level, and developed just as the standards and the industry were beginning to mature.

    Ottman attributes the longevity of her career with the Army to the variety of opportunities the Army has provided. Each time she wanted to advance, the chance to compete for interesting job openings was available. “It seemed like when the time was right, a new opportunity came along.” The Army also provided educational opportunities. Through the Army, she earned her master’s in business administration from Auburn University, and a master’s in management and leadership from Webster University while simultaneously completing a Senior Service Fellowship at Defense Acquisition University.

    “It has been a tremendously rewarding experience to be part of a program that is changing the face of aviation.”

    FOTF: What do you do in the Army? Why is it important?

    OTTMAN: Currently I am co-managing Ground-Based-Sense-and-Avoid System Development as a Deputy Product Director. Simply put, this system helps an unmanned aircraft detect and avoid other traffic in the sky. For example, when you fly to Orlando, Fla. on your way to Disney World, you fly through the National Airspace System. If your pilot sees other aircraft, he will avoid them. Unmanned aircraft don’t have pilots onboard, and GBSAA allows them to sense and avoid other traffic in the sky. Putting this system in place enables unmanned aircraft to avoid other traffic just like a manned aircraft does in the airspace.

    In a nutshell, current FAA regulations require that aircraft be able to see and avoid other aircraft. Since unmanned aircraft systems do not have a pilot on board, they cannot comply with these regulations without additional mitigations. Currently, unmanned aircraft are required to fly with either ground observers watching them from the ground, or they can be followed by chase aircraft such as a Cessna or military aircraft. The purpose is for the observer to alert the unmanned aircraft pilot of potential traffic conflicts with other aircraft such that they can avoid them. GBSAA will allow unmanned aircraft to sense (with the use of ground sensors) other aircraft in the sky and maneuver around them as manned aircraft would.

    The more technical answer is that, as Deputy Product Director, I co-manage the development and fielding of the GBSAA. It is the first system of its kind and is changing the face of unmanned aviation. The Unmanned Systems Airspace Integration Concepts Product Directorate serves as the DOD lead for GBSAA. While serving as lead, the Army fielded and flew the first prototype GBSAA system at El Mirage, Calif. in 2011. Based on that success, the Army is moving forward to conduct operations with the first DO-178C compliant GBSAA system in 2015.

    A team player, in the office and on the diamond, Ottman plays for the PM UAS Unmanned and Unafraid softball team. (Photo courtesy of Stephanie Johnson)

    FOTF: Why did you choose the Army for your career? What is your greatest satisfaction in being part of the Army?

    OTTMAN: I began my career with the Army on Sept. 11, 1989 as a cooperative education student. I enjoyed the job immensely and remained with the Army upon graduation from college. I take immense pride and satisfaction in being able to serve the warfighter. My father and my uncles were all in the military and I know the sacrifices that they made to serve our country. It is very rewarding to participate in developing systems that increase our warfighters’ capabilities and their safety so that they can defend our freedoms and return home to their families.

    FOTF: What has your experience been like? What has surprised you the most?

    OTTMAN: In my 24 years with the Army, it has been both surprising and extremely rewarding that as my interests and desire for professional growth have changed, career opportunities have always been available that have allowed me to stretch personally and professionally. As a result, I have been able to contribute and serve during my civilian career in more ways than I would have ever dreamed possible.

    I began my career as a cooperative education electrical engineering student performing tasks such as wire-wrapping and soldering circuit boards. This led to the pursuit of a career in software development, with activities such as writing assembly code, developing expertise in visual programming, trainer software development, and then tactical software development. Along the way I gained more responsibility. After being recognized for my leadership abilities, the Army sent me to school for an MBA and also to the Senior Service College Fellowship program at the Defense Acquisition University where I also gained my masters in leadership. Following the SSCF program, I took my current position with the GBSAA program. It has been a tremendously rewarding experience to be part of a program that is changing the face of aviation.

    Related Links:

    PEO Aviation

    PM Unmanned Aircraft Systems

    Army celebrates 2 million hours of unmanned aircraft flight


    • “Faces of the Force” is an online feature highlighting members of the Army Acquisition Workforce. Produced by the U.S. Army Acquisition Support Center Communication Division, and working closely with public affairs officers, Soldiers and Civilians currently serving in a variety of AL&T disciplines. For more information, or to nominate someone, please contact 703-805-1006.

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  • Tobyhanna lands Gray Eagle Ground Control Station repairs

    Repairs on the Ground Control Stations for Gray Eagle (MQ-1C) UAS are scheduled to begin at Tobyhanna Army Depot in FY16. (U.S. Army photo)


    By Justin Eimers


    TOBYHANNA ARMY DEPOT, Pa. — The Army, Marine Corps, Air Force and Navy have named Tobyhanna the Depot Source of Repair (DSOR) for the Gray Eagle (MQ-1C) Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) Ground Control Stations (GCSs).

    The decision by the four services’ Maintenance Interservice Support Management Offices recognizes the depot as the installation best suited for these repairs.

    “Through the acquisition process, there is a lot of assessment that takes place, including core logistics analyses that look at our capabilities,” said Nick Caprioli, chief of the Business Development Division. “Tobyhanna was selected based on infrastructure, training and technical expertise for this type of work.”

    Repair work will begin in FY16 with 19 GCSs scheduled per year, totaling more than 75 systems through FY18.

    The Gray Eagle system is a long-range, high-altitude UAS that provides the capability to perform wide-area reconnaissance, surveillance and target acquisition. It is also capable of relaying communications and can be equipped for attack missions. The system consists of the aircraft, GCS, data terminals and data links. Each GCS controls one Gray Eagle aircraft and is used by the operator to perform command and control, payload control and weapon launch operations.

    Because of their complexity, Gray Eagle systems and components are currently replaced rather than repaired, exhausting money and resources. Depot personnel are developing cost-effective solutions to repair GCSes and increase capability. Tobyhanna recognizes that the assignment of this DSOR will enable the depot to be selected for additional DSORs for UAS equipment.

    Katlin Edmunds, business development specialist, noted that revamping the DSOR decision process will also help substantially reduce costs and bring more UAS work to the depot.

    “DSOR selection helps ensure effective use of commercial and organic depot maintenance resources,” she said. “We have been aggressively trying to streamline processes, find inefficiencies and figure out the best way to accommodate new UAS workloads.”

    Based on trends in the market, business management analysts anticipate that UAS will be the depot’s largest commodity in the future. As the only Army depot involved in the integrated product team (IPT) for Air Force and Army UAS, Tobyhanna is well positioned to receive workloads for additional UAS component repairs. The IPT is working with Tobyhanna to identify the need for any new test equipment, facilitation or training necessary for additional UAS work.

    “Part of the planning process to bring in this workload is to have our engineers work with the program offices to make sure our capabilities are sufficient to provide the best solution for everybody involved,” said Caprioli. “The depot’s all-hands-on-deck approach to secure this DSOR selection has helped to increase our marketability and should open doors for future UAS workloads.”

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  • Layers of Concern

    CRITICAL ANALYSIS A Soldier checks a WIN-T Increment 2 Point of Presence-equipped vehicle at Forward Operating Base Gamberi, Afghanistan, in September 2013. WIN-T is one of the Army systems to have undergone a FaC analysis. (U.S. Army photo by SPC Edward Bates, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division Public Affairs)

    Assessing the health of the Army’s industrial base is a complex task


    By Mr. Juan L. Millan


    The Army industrial base of today is more global, commercial and financially complex than that of 10 or 15 years ago. Prime suppliers have increased their role as integrators and delegated key innovation and development roles to a vast and complex network of sub-tier suppliers. Sub-tier suppliers have responded with their own complex network of suppliers, some of which are small, highly skilled and defense-dependent firms. These small, specialized firms serve as the warning indicator for the health of the overall industrial base.

    The Army understands that the industry supporting defense is reshaping itself to respond to significant changes in military missions that translate to a sizable reduction in the demand for supplies and equipment. Major defense firms are responding by reducing excess capacity, streamlining processes and revamping supplier relationships. In addition, the financial uncertainty of sequestration will affect the future demand for new systems.

    All of these factors create a high-risk environment for manufacturers and suppliers. The key question is: “How is the Army addressing the challenges to maintain the industrial base that supports the warfighter?”

    COMPLEX RELATIONSHIPS The Gray Eagle UAS incorporates elements of WIN-T Increment 3, such as a Highband Radio Frequency Unit - Extended Range Multi-Purpose Ku-band line-of-sight transmission system, shown here during testing in late 2012. FaC assessments have shown how an industrial base issue with one key capability can affect another. (U.S. Army photo)

    First, the Army must determine which industrial capabilities are unique and vital to our national defense, and whether the military and its capabilities will be in jeopardy when a company decides to terminate a vital activity or move production offshore. Second, the Army must determine how major players can support the smaller force so that it remains credible and capable. Doing this requires involvement from multiple organizations at the strategic, tactical and operational levels, developing strong, ongoing and mutually beneficial joint relationships with their counterparts in the private sector to help minimize the impact of a potential loss in capabilities.

    The Army is taking a proactive approach to ensure the preservation of those critical and essential capabilities needed for future short- and long-term operations. In order to identify the risks and issues impacting the industrial base, the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology (OASA(ALT)) has established collaborative efforts with major players such as the Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Manufacturing and Industrial Base Policy, the U.S. Army Materiel Command, the Defense Logistics Agency, the U.S. Department of Commerce and the Defense Contract Management Agency.

    As the Army draws down from contingency operations, some of the industrial base issues being addressed include excess capacity, limited incentives for private investment, commercial sources exiting the defense business, a growing dependence on foreign suppliers, shrinking and aging stockpiles, and declining commercial research and development capabilities.

    For assessment purposes, the Army has organized its industrial base into five sectors, following the way program executive offices (PEOs), life cycle management commands (LCMCs), and research, development and engineering centers (RDECs) are structured by commodity. (See Figure 1.)

    FIGURE 1: FIVE SECTORS The Army has divided the industrial base into five sectors that align with the efforts of PEOs, LCMCs and other major players. (SOURCE: Juan L. Millan)

    The Army is also fully engaged in joint assessment efforts focused on the identification of risks and issues impacting the industrial base’s ability to sustain readiness. They are:

    1. The Sector-by-Sector, Tier-by-Tier (S2T2) Assessment—S2T2 seeks to establish early-warning indicators of risk, particularly at lower tiers, to promote policies to mitigate potential points of failure, reduce overreliance on foreign sourcing and identify areas of limited competition. The S2T2 assessment, which started in 2011, entails surveying, collecting and analyzing data from the commercial sector, reviewing outside expert reports and assessing challenges to the manufacturing community. A critical part of the S2T2 effort is the series of fragility and criticality (FaC) assessments. The FaC assessments map fragile and critical niches in the defense industrial base, to facilitate risk-mitigation investment decisions. The information generated will allow program offices to accurately gauge how potential reductions in funding could affect suppliers who provide the capabilities, products, skills and services needed to support requirements. Below are some recent products of the S2T2 FaC process:

    Qualitative superiority in weaponry and other key military technology has become an essential element of American military power in the modern era, not only for winning wars but also for deterring them.

    • The M1 Abrams tank assessment enabled the team to narrow down a list of thousands of suppliers to a manageable number. As a result, a supplier of critical components (tank periscopes) was identified and a project funded to keep this fragile capability available for future ground vehicle programs.
    • The Warfighter Information Network – Tactical (WIN-T) assessment revealed specialized skill sets and a critical supplier at high risk of being lost due to decreased funding.
    • The rotary-wing and missile sector’s Gray Eagle Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) assessment provided a list of critical skills or production capabilities at high risk of being lost due to decreased funding. The assessment will facilitate the development of strategies to mitigate these risks.

    2. The Industrial Base Baseline Assessment (IBBA)—The IBBA is another effort to evaluate the ability of the Army’s production base to sustain acquisition and readiness, and to provide recommendations for risk mitigation.

    Through the integration of program inputs from each LCMC, RDEC, PEO and senior Army leadership, the IBBA focuses each organization’s assessment on critical industrial base capabilities, technologies and capacities.

    A QUESTION OF FRAGILITY The crew of an M1A2 Abrams Tank from 3rd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division (3-1 CAV) fires during the battalion’s Table VI live-fire gunnery Sept. 24, 2013, at Fort Hood, TX. Assessing the Abrams tank’s industrial base enabled the Army to identify fragile capabilities. (U.S. Army photo by SGT Kim Browne, 3-1 CAV Public Affairs)

    It takes a joint approach by major players to assess the many challenges faced by the defense industrial base and find solutions that will preserve its health, integrity and technical superiority in support of the warfighter.

    There is no doubt that the current wave of defense cuts, combining predictable effects of the drawdowns from Iraq and Afghanistan with the unpredictable consequences of sequestration, is very different from past defense budget reductions, and its impact on the industrial base is going to be significant. This impact calls on the Army to balance cuts across all parts of acquisition and force structure and to limit million-dollar problems to million-dollar solutions.

    The challenges are forcing the Army to take a deep, hard look at the firms that supply the technologies our armed forces use, as they are important to national security.

    Qualitative superiority in weaponry and other key military technology has become an essential element of American military power in the modern era, not only for winning wars but also for deterring them.

    To be successful, the future industrial base must be capability- and capacity-based, using innovative practices to achieve integrated capabilities that are both flexible and responsive.

    In the short term, the Army should focus on identifying only those truly critical and essential capabilities that it will need to preserve for regeneration purposes. In the long term, the Army should focus on identifying potential capability gaps and target its investments based on key fragile industrial capabilities needed now and in the future.

    MR. JUAN L. MILLAN serves as a senior industrial base policy specialist in the Acquisition and Industrial Base Policy Directorate of OASA(ALT). He holds a B.S. in industrial engineering from the Polytechnic University of Puerto Rico, a B.B.A. from Puerto Rico’s State University and an M.S. in management from the Florida Institute of Technology. Millan is Level III certified in program management and in production, quality and manufacturing. He also holds a Lean Six Sigma Yellow Belt, and is a member of the U.S. Army Acquisition Corps.

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  • Shadows provide mission support from the sky

    Specialist Justin Waltho with Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, Combined Task Force Dragoon, pushes an RQ7B Shadow Technical Unmanned Aircraft System to a mechanical station to conduct post-flight checks Sept. 12, 2013, at Forward Operating Base Pasab, Afghanistan. The aircraft, which is used for aerial reconnaissance and mission communications, must go through a detailed preventative maintenance daily after every mission. (Photos by Spc. Joshua Edwards, Combined Task Force Dragoon Public Affairs)

    By Spc. Joshua Edwards

    FORWARD OPERATING BASE PASAB, Afghanistan — On a narrow stretch of road fashioned into a runway at Forward Operating Base Pasab, Afghanistan, Soldiers with Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, Combined Task Force Dragoon, launch unmanned aircrafts to safely maintain a view of the battlefield from the sky.

    The Soldiers run 24-hour-a-day operations out of the airfield in order to keep situational awareness at all times in support of friendly forces who could be conducting missions anywhere in the area of operations.

    The RQ7B Shadow Technical Unmanned Aircraft System allows the troops to maintain communications during operations and follows movements through video feed and infrared technology. The team provides intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance for the task force’s 1st, 3rd, and 4th Squadrons.

    The shadow system’s maintenance, technical inspections and maintenance quality control are the responsibilities of one person. This person is in charge of handling tasks including pushing the aircraft to the launcher and loading it, conducting pre-flight checks to ensure flight services are in order and aircraft components work correctly, pressurizing the launcher, launching and landing of the aircraft, conducting post-flight inspections to ensure the aircraft has sustained no damage while in flight, making sure the engine is in good working order and changing the fluids.

    Specialist Joseph Anderson (right) and Spc. Nicolas Redondo, both with Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, Combined Task Force Dragoon, conduct pre-flight checks before launching an RQ7B Shadow Technical Unmanned Aircraft System Sept. 12, 2013, at Forward Operating Base Pasab, Afghanistan. The Soldiers use the aircraft for aerial reconnaissance and mission communications.

    The shadow aircraft is flown every hour and all maintenance performed is logged into a data system that can be tracked in the future.

    Sergeant First Class Brock Niehaus from Smithville, Mo., and platoon sergeant for the team, is responsible for handling administrative data for the platoon, flight schedules, ensuring shifts run properly and acts as a liaison between the platoon and civilians working with them. He assists in the maintenance and launching of the aircraft and implements safety standards.

    Through the use of the aircraft, the team provides support to Soldiers on the ground with a number of resources that continuously give U.S. and coalition forces the edge on today’s modern battlefield.

    “We provide (intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance) coverage for convoys, route surveillance, (points of interest) reconnaissance; provide over-watch for the engineers during route clearance and general surveillance of the area,” said Niehaus. “(The platoon) is consistently performing at a very high standard.”

    Visit Program Executive Office Aviation for more information on unmanned aerial vehicles.

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  • Ground Based Sense and Avoid Demonstration Is a Success

    In one vignette of the GBSAA demonstration June 20 at Dugway Proving Ground, UT, two Shadow UAS were flown toward one another. One was participating as a noncooperative aircraft and unaware of the traffic situation, while the other Shadow used the GBSAA system to recommend maneuvers to separate safely. Here, VIPs watch as a Shadow UAS receives course correction information from GBSAA. (Photo by Ryan Sims, Media Fusion)

    Mary Ottman

    The Army’s Unmanned Systems Airspace Integration Product Directorate, one of eight offices within the Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Project Office of Program Executive Office (PEO) Aviation, has conducted a successful demonstration of current Ground Based Sense and Avoid (GBSAA) capabilities at Dugway Proving Ground, UT. The June 20 demonstration was successful beyond expectations, clearing a major hurdle for testing the capability before the certification process begins. The Army will begin fielding these systems to Gray Eagle UAS training sites in early 2014.

    In every case, the GBSAA system exceeded expectations. The system proved to be capable of providing safe separation and collision avoidance to all aircraft in every vignette. Although some technology growth and improvements remain, this demonstration provided many lessons learned that can lead to advancing GBSAA technologies.

    In 2008, the Army, designated as the lead service by the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense UAS Task Force, began developing technology to allow for UAS access to the National Airspace System (NAS). The GBSAA system uses ground-based sensors (existing air traffic control and supplemental, 3-D radar) and associated technology to fuse, classify, and track air traffic for maneuver algorithms that calculate and evaluate threats, before providing the information needed to safely separate the UAS from other traffic. Many years of research and technology development have been dedicated to developing a system that provides the much-needed operational capability and has the pedigree associated with safety-critical hardware and software.

    The Army first demonstrated a system in 2011 at El Mirage, CA. Development efforts were then moved to restricted airspace in Utah, which allowed a shift in focus to developing a more operationally capable system. The June 20 demonstration followed two weeks of intense testing on the system and subsystems. Specific objectives included:
    • Demonstrate technology out of the laboratory in actual flight operations.
    • Demonstrate the functionality and adaptability of the GBSAA system by conducting operations targeting multiple service sites.
    • Highlight open-architecture, plug-and-play functionality of the GBSAA system.
    • Demonstrate the ability to fuse data from 3-D and air traffic control radar (Airport Surveillance Radar-9) in real time.
    • Early validation of common (cross-service) GBSAA requirements.

    Seven vignettes were used to achieve the objectives. Three used live flights with unmanned systems, and four included synthetic aircraft and terrain. Sister service locations and flights against live traffic in Salt Lake City, UT, and recorded traffic from Boston, MA, were used to demonstrate the capability of the system. To show the versatility of GBSAA, two different types of radar were fused, and three different UAS—Sky Warrior-A, Hunter, and Shadow—were used for the live flights. In the third vignette, two Shadow UAS were flown toward one another. One was participating as a noncooperative aircraft and unaware of the traffic situation, while the other Shadow used the GBSAA system to recommend maneuvers to separate safely.

    One of two radars used at Dugway Proving Ground’s test bed. The GBSAA system uses ground-based sensors (existing air traffic control and supplemental, 3-D radar) and associated technology to fuse, classify, and track air traffic for maneuver algorithms that calculate and evaluate threats, (U.S. Army photo by Sofia Bledsoe)

    In every case, the GBSAA system exceeded expectations. The system proved to be capable of providing safe separation and collision avoidance to all aircraft in every vignette. Although some technology growth and improvements remain, this demonstration provided many lessons learned that can lead to advancing GBSAA technologies.

    For instance, the tests enlightened users to possible human factors that will be considered when designing the GBSAA display. An example: A mathematically correct maneuver from the algorithm advises the most efficient and safe maneuver, but in some cases this may seem to contradict the mitigating actions an operator might take. In those cases, additional research will be done to explore how the algorithm can be tuned to take into account common convention without affecting the safety of the system.

    The results of the GBSAA demonstration have significant implications for opening the NAS to UAS. Large numbers of unmanned aircraft are returning from overseas contingency operational support and need to continue operating and training to maintain proficiency. First responders, DoD, the U.S. Coast Guard, and U.S. Department of Homeland Security are providing critical support to the Nation at home by using unmanned systems. This system will complement those missions while ensuring that the airspace remains safe for other users.

    Several years of research and development have culminated in a successful demonstration of GBSAA capabilities, leaving observers and developers excited about the way ahead. The system certification effort is underway and on track to be operational at Fort Hood, TX, in early 2014, with continued fielding to the next Gray Eagle locations. It’s an ambitious goal, but an achievable one in the hands of an ambitious GBSAA Team.


    • MARY OTTMAN is Deputy Product Manager of the Unmanned Systems Airspace Integration Concepts Product Office in PEO Aviation’s UAS Program Management Office. She holds a B.S. in electrical engineering from the University of Alabama in Huntsville, an M.B.A. from Auburn University, and an M.A. in management and leadership from Webster University. She is also a graduate of the Senior Service College Fellowship program. Ottman is Level III certified in systems planning, research, development, and engineering (SPRDE) – systems engineering I, Level II certified in SPRDE – program systems engineering, and Level II certified in program management tools.

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