Why is STUAS/Tier II so hard?

The Ides of March is past. The end of the month approaches. On the Department of Defense’s fiscal calendar, the third quarter starts in only a week.

That means we’re one week away from another mysterious delay on the US Navy’s schedule to award a small tactical unmanned aircraft system (STUAS)/Tier II contract.

In December, the Navy postponed contract award from the first quarter of Fiscal 2010 to the second quarter. That was after delaying contract award from the fourth quarter of FY2009. And that was after postponing the original plan to award the US Marine Corps Tier II contract in August 2007, which allowed the USN to join the program and dramatically change the requirements.

Barring some programmatic miracle, I anticipate the USN will announce a further delay or something even more dramatic within the next few days. 

For such a relatively small contract (sub-$500 million — peanuts in DOD acquisition terms), STUAS/Tier II is a strangely huge headache to decide.

Given so many unexplained delays, you have to wonder if any of the four bidders are considering options for protesting the decision (if there ever is one) to the Government Accountability Office.


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12 Responses to Why is STUAS/Tier II so hard?

  1. Tim Dawson-Townsend 24 March, 2010 at 11:03 pm #

    The classic “trying to wedge too many requirements into one platform” rears its head again??

  2. Anonymous 25 March, 2010 at 12:22 am #

    One explanation is that the award delays are intentional because none of the bidders presented a solution with the desired technical maturity. This implies that all four candidates produced less-than-stellar demonstrations last summer, which jives with the rumors that were floating around.

    Another explanation is that the limited resources of PMA-263 are focused on other programs. In effect, the junior varsity team is running STUAS, bless their little hearts: it just takes these folks a lot longer to dot each i and cross each t in the current litigious environment.

    A third explanation is that there’s no real pull from the fleet for the new program; the existing solutions are working well enough.

    Pick one or more.

  3. Ed Hart 29 March, 2010 at 4:54 pm #

    I suggest that in following the traditional acquisition process – airframe first – the STUAS process misses that the need is for what the payload can do…not the airframe. Perhaps there is some rethinking going on…maybe even a “start over” to simply say what intel is needed from the payload, followed by “bring us a platform to carry it.” There is no shortage of smart guys working the program, but the rate at which capabilities in small UAVs is growing suggests a slight pause is not a bad idea.

  4. onederboy 1 April, 2010 at 9:17 pm #

    Sure just pause…just ask the boys and girls fighting our wars to pause and not walk or drive down the roads laced with IEDs and bad guys. Hard to believe that one of the industry competitors does not have a solution that is good enough for these boys and girls today. The base contract dollar amount is little more than what the companies combined have most likely spent chasing contract since the original RFI back in 2006 and draft RFP in 2008. Smart guys are not much help if you do nothing.

  5. Pictus III 3 April, 2010 at 2:08 am #

    Geez. The Navy already has the com link, RT-1944/U
    54 Mbps networked IP addressed datalink, payloads are a dime a dozen. What is the problem, all four bidders have, SUPPOSEDLY, air worthy proven platforms. Must be an “oh shit” what are we signing up to type deal. Eeny meeny minee moe, pick a platform we gotta go. cOme on guys didnt the flight test demo do any good, it sure costs bucks to the contractors!!! Fish or cut bait!!!!

  6. Facetious Scholar 29 April, 2010 at 4:04 pm #

    Anyone know when this contract is now scheduled to be awarded?

  7. Baruch 4 May, 2010 at 6:08 am #

    One of the big problems the assesors have is to shift from the common american attitude of RPV – Remotely Piloted Vehicle to autonomous system. The UAV is self piloted creature that can take care of all flight tasks and the only business you have with it is sending its targets and getting the intel. You should start thinking that the UAV is just another point on the tactical map that performs its mission. Whether it flyes with proper phase margin or gain margin is simply unimportant! As long it stays in the sky for the required time – It’s OK !

  8. onederboy 7 May, 2010 at 10:48 pm #

    Another week has ended and so the ides of April and still no STUAS announcement on a decision.

  9. Facetious Scholar 21 May, 2010 at 4:02 pm #

    And the ides of May!

  10. onederboy 1 July, 2010 at 7:21 pm #

    and the ides or June too….

  11. Joe 29 July, 2010 at 5:44 pm #

    Expect a STUAS announcement at 2pm PST

  12. onederboy 31 July, 2010 at 2:03 am #

    Looks like Insitu won! Hear the Government wants 400 computer access accounts to monitor the industry team over the next 2 years in this development program that has less than 50 industry engineers. That sounds like it may slow things a bit and open up the doors for requirements and task creep.

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