Release of the US Department of Defense unmanned air vehicle (UAV) planning document has been held up by disagreement between the armed services on what should be included.

The final document was scheduled to be released in September last year after changes from the armed forces and other DoD organisations were incorporated.

The depth of the disagreement is made clear by the consolidated comments of the armed services and the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) obtained by Flight International.

The US Navy and the JCS say the document's "Master Plan" title should be altered to "roadmap" or "perspective". They believe it is not a prescriptive, detailed plan for the development and employment of UAVs over the next 25 years.

The USN says the plan should only "stimulate the planning process and provide a forum for mutual discussion", adding that "the service's own budget processes and plans remain pre-eminent and will continue to dictate the actual course each service takes".

The navy adds that the document should say there are no plans to field the Dragon Drone, a modified version of the BAI Aerosystems' Exdrone; that the Dragon Warrior, a Sikorsky Cypher variant, has been terminated; and that there is no intent to continue development of the Broad-area Un-manned Responsive Resupply Operations (BURRO) concept involving a remotely-piloted Kaman K-MAX helicopter.

The US Air Force, however, wants a note that its Special Operations Command is using Exdrone as a testbed for potential concepts and payloads.

To expand the available manpower, the draft suggests the use of USAF and USN aircrew as UAV operators, but the air force wants to add air traffic controllers to the list.

Northrop Grumman has been awarded a $45 million USAF contract to begin engineering and manufacturing development of the RQ-4A Global Hawk UAV. The DoD approved EMD on 6 March, but decided against accelerating signals intelligence capability on Global Hawk. As a result, the RQ-4A will not get a SIGINT capability until fiscal year 2009.

Source: Flight International