Procurement: January 16, 2001


The US Marines wanted a new lightweight reconnaissance drone, and they wanted it in a hurry. The drone was called Dragon Eye. The Marines want it by 2002, which is three years after development began. Normally, these things take six to eight years before the troops get the item. What was different with Dragon Eye was that the Marines and the developers realized what made these projects drag on for so long. Changes. A little modification here, a new feature there and things just drag on and on. So with Dragon Eye, the Marines made up their wish list; a 4.5 pound aircraft that broke down into five pieces so it can be carried in a backpack. The two electric motors can operate for 17 minutes on a rechargeable battery (allowing it to travel about ten kilometers) or one hour with a non-rechargeable battery.) The ground control system is wearable, and a four by six inch video display can be worn on the arm. The drone is launched the same way paper airplanes are. The developers agreed to make the Dragon Eye according to the Marines specifications. But there was one catch. There could be no changes or modifications. None. As a result, work proceeded at a rapid clip. A look at wartime research and development finds that the same quick results were obtained because there was, literally, no time for modifications. Changes and upgrades were made after the first version went off to the troops. For some odd reason, this eminently practical approach never became popular in peacetime. 




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