US military officials have reiterated the necessity of working with industry to develop affordable and effective unmanned air vehicles (UAVs) - including systems that can promote joint operations between the services.

“We have a responsibility to ensure we are working with industry, academia and the warfighter to find [an] affordable solution that allows us to efficiently develop and field these unmanned systems,” says US Navy Rear Adm Mathias Winter, programme executive officer for unmanned aviation and strike weapons.

“Working in the joint domain is absolutely essential,” he adds.

Winter, speaking during a session at AUVSI’s annual meeting on 13 May, describes as “nirvana” the idea that one of the USN’s Northrop Grumman MQ-4C Triton UAVs could be controlled by army troops on the ground, bringing the navy’s reach directly where it is needed.

His comments were echoed by US Army director of material Col Keith Hauk. The army’s goal is to make “interoperability” of UAVs “as seamless as possible”, he says.

“The soldier on the ground …wants a piece of data to engage a target [and] it doesn’t really matter where that piece of information came from,” he says.