About That UAV Decision

The recent decision by Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England to deny the Air Force executive agency status for medium- and high-altitude unmanned aerial vehicles did not sit well with Gen. Ronald Keys, head of Air Combat Command. During the Four-Star Forum Tuesday at AFA’s Air & Space Conference, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Michael Moseley repeated the upbeat assessment he had given on Monday, saying he was “not unhappy” with the situation, though more work is needed. However, Keys jumped in to say, “I’m not quite as happy as you are.” He said that the current situation is dysfunctional and a joint solution is needed. Keys laid out two basic problems: First, air commanders don’t even know where all the convoy routes are, and therefore are limited in their ability to provide UAV cover; and second, the current system essentially forces the Air Force and Army into a procurement competition. In his view, merging the USAF Predator with its Army Sky Warrior fraternal twin won’t solve that. There are “good ideas but not compatible good ideas” among the services, said Keys.