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Would you stake your life, right now, on the condition of your equipment?
NEWS | Jan. 6, 2023

Leader Interview: COL Medaglia, UAS PM

COL Danielle Medaglia, Unmanned Aircraft Systems Project Manager
COL Danielle Medaglia
Project Manager, Unmanned Aircraft Systems, PEO Aviation

MSG Half-Mast recently drove across Redstone Arsenal to speak with COL Danielle Medaglia, Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Project Manager to discuss the current state of UAS, future development efforts and some maintenance best practices. 

COL Medaglia was commissioned through ROTC from Temple University in 1999, joining the Aviation branch and qualifying as a UH-60 Black Hawk pilot. She commanded Charlie Company, 3-158th Aviation Regiment, a portion of which involved supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom. She joined the Acquisition Corps in 2009. Among her subsequent assignments, she served as: Assistant Product Manager for the Enhanced Medium Altitude Reconnaissance and Surveillance System, Aberdeen Proving Ground, MD; Chief of Flight Operations supporting the Defense Contract Management Agency with duty at the Boeing Company, Philadelphia, PA, where she also qualified as a CH-47F Chinook pilot; Product Manager, CH-47F Helicopter Product Office; and Executive Officer to the Principal Military Deputy, ASA(ALT), Washington D.C. She assumed her present duties in Sep 22. She attended the Air War College, Air University, earning a master’s degree in Strategic Studies.

MSG Half-Mast: Ma’am, thanks for taking time to meet with PS Magazine and update us on the Army’s Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Project Office. Let’s start by briefly describing your organization’s mission.
COL Medaglia: Our mission at the PM UAS Project Office is to revolutionize the battlefield by delivering uncrewed weapons systems that extend our combat commanders’ operational reach. Our organization's motto is "Never a fair fight!" By that, we mean it's not going to be fair for the enemy. UAS give our units the operational advantage they need to fight and win on today's and tomorrow's battlefields.

MSG Half-Mast: Recognizing you’re new to this position, what will be your primary focus and priorities over the next one to two years?
COL Medaglia: Team UAS is prioritizing and focusing on the Army’s modernization efforts as we continue to deliver capability in support of multidomain operations. Specifically, the team is executing these near-term efforts:

1. The Air Launched Effects program of record (POR) with delivery scheduled for 2025. Air Launched Effects is a system consisting of an air vehicle, effector payload, mission system applications and associated support equipment, designed to deliver effects as a single agent or as a member of a team. The Future Tactical Unmanned Aircraft System (FTUAS) will award in 2Q23 to develop and deliver a vertical take-off and landing weapon system that consists of intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance functions.

2. Additionally, a short-term priority within the office is continuing the development and fielding of the Short-Range Reconnaissance Unmanned System to the Soldiers who are closest to the fight. The team is also updating the Raven UAS to the Medium Range Reconnaissance (MRR) role and kicking-off the new Long Range Reconnaissance program next year, while continuing to modernize the Army’s Gray Eagle fleet.

MSG Half-Mast: Why are UAS important to the Army’s mission and how are they envisioned to support large-scale, multidomain operations? Related to this but through a joint lens, how is your office integrating with UAS development efforts of the other services?
COL Medaglia: UAS extends operational reach by leading with systems and sensors versus risking the lives of Soldiers. Specifically, UAS increase commanders’ knowledge across a battlefield, which results in timely and better-informed decisions. Also, unmanned systems allow Soldiers to breach the enemy’s defense systems, providing opportunities they can then exploit. In a multidomain environment, extending the reach to find and fix targets is critical for achieving victory without endangering Soldiers’ lives.

PM UAS is incredibly fortunate to work with teammates among all the services and DoD laboratories where the Science and Technology (S&T) community is continuously prototyping and pushing the boundaries of what is in the realm of possible. The UAS community engages regularly across DoD to develop and deliver the best possible weapons systems to the men and women who fight our nation’s wars.

MSG Half-Mast: To the degree you can answer this, how is UAS employment in the Ukraine conflict informing the decisions your office is making in its development efforts?
COL Medaglia: The efforts in the US European Command (USEUCOM) in support of Ukraine and its citizens is truly inspirational. The success of UAS is dependent on cutting-edge technology; therefore, DoD observes the systems employed throughout Ukraine to inform decisions.

MSG Half-Mast: What are some of the preventive maintenance issues Soldiers need to focus on when it comes to UAS? Are there things leaders need to emphasize better to ensure their combat effectiveness.
COL Medaglia: It is imperative that Shadow and Gray Eagle UAS units place emphasis on protecting cables. Follow the Preventative Maintenance Daily (PMD) section in the Shadow TM 1-1550-1689-23&P (May 22) and special instructions sections for the Unmanned Ground Control Station (UGCS) and Unmanned Ground Data Terminal (UGDT) sections in the Gray Eagle TM 1-1550-696-23&P (Sep 22).  An additional resource is TM 1-1500-323-24-4 (Aug 12) for proper fiber optic cable care. Avoid bending and stretching cables to the maximum, walking, and driving over them, or leaving them submerged in water. 
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