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News | Oct. 14, 2016

DCMA helps RQ-7B hit major milestone

By DCMA Baltimore

BALTIMORE, Oct. 14, 2016 — The RQ-7B Tactical Unmanned Aircraft System drone, referred to as Shadow, recently reached a major milestone; one million total flight hours — something that brings pride to Defense Contract Management Agency personnel working here.

“DCMA has been critical to the success of the Shadow program since its inception,” said Todd Smith, deputy product manager. “DCMA provided surveillance at Hunt Valley, Maryland, overseeing the production and repair of the Shadow air vehicle, payload, ground control and ground support subsystems. This support was invaluable as the program flew 1,000,000 hours, the majority in direct support to combat operations.”

The RQ-7B is a long-winged, nine-hour endurance drone actively supporting the U.S. military, as well as armed forces in Italy, Sweden and Australia. It is an all-digital system, equipped with communications relay and laser target designation. It also provides scouting combat mission support. The millionth flight hour was accomplished during a mission in Europe, making Shadow the first drone of its size to accomplish such a milestone.

Since the program’s inception in 2002, DCMA has provided oversight to ensure the products and services delivered met contractual requirements. Each function within DCMA’s program support team contributed to the mission.

The ground government flight representative orchestrated the aviation program team — comprised of a government ground representative, contract safety specialist and quality assurance representatives — in performing the government's surveillance of the contractor’s aircraft operations. Additionally, the QAR established and executed the Safety of Flight program, as outlined in DCMA Instruction 308.

“The industrial specialists evaluated the contractor’s production for efficiency, ensured compliance with contractual agreements and looked for appropriate opportunities for improvement recommendations,” said Ed Hoke, DCMA Baltimore industrial specialist. “They also helped save the contractor and government time and money, while also ensuring only the very best equipment was delivered.”

DCMA’s earned value management specialists provided independent assessment and predictive analysis reporting of current and future impacts of cost, schedule and/or technical risks, thus providing the customer with a valuable perspective into the programs’ performance.

“With DCMA’s programmatic insight, better management decisions were made to ensure a flight worthy air vehicle was delivered to the warfighter within cost and on schedule,” Cindy Monius, DCMA Baltimore program integrator.

John Kamerosky, operations research analyst, added, “The software team's surveillance helped ensure Shadow’s quality, and provided independent assessments and predictions on any potential software quality or release schedule problems.”

Lastly, DCMA’s hardware quality group worked with contractors to ensure the air vehicles and ground equipment were delivered to the soldiers without any major quality concerns. They did this by implementing product examinations, process reviews and system audits.

DCMA quality assurance surveillance drove continuous improvement into the production, repair, and refurbishment of the Shadow through the process of identifying non-conformances and verifying the implementation of corrective actions.

“The success of the Shadow program is a great example of how DCMA is meeting our mission and vision,” said Scott Weaver, DCMA Baltimore Engineering and Analysis group chief. “We are providing actionable acquisition insight from the factory floor to the front line. The Shadow program support team’s efforts and cross-functional communication embodies the agency’s ‘one team, one voice’ vision.”