Affordable Surveillance a Priority for Special Operations

Affordable Surveillance a Priority for Special Operations image
January 16, 2016 | Source: Allyson Versprille, NDIA National Defense Magazine

U.S. Special Operations Command is looking to add more affordable surveillance, intelligence and reconnaissance systems to its inventory, the head of acquisition and procurement said.  

“Affordable ISR is a need,” said James Geurts during a National Defense Industrial Association breakfast. “We’ve got great ISR, but the demand always outpaces the capability,” and the platforms can be expensive.

The unit cost for an MQ-9 Reaper armed surveillance drone is $64.2 million in fiscal year 2006 dollars. A unit includes four aircraft, sensors, ground control stations and communication systems, according to an Air Force fact sheet.

The current approach to unmanned aerial systems is not scalable over the long term when it comes to affordability, he later told National Defense in an interview. “We have many more sensing requirements than we could ever afford to put large, very exquisitely capable [unmanned aerial systems] against.”