Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Systems Engineering


Department of Systems Engineering and Management

First Advisor

David R. Jacques, PhD.

Second Advisor

Richard G. Cobb, PhD.


Remotely-Piloted Aircraft (RPA) provide users with unique mission capabilities, particularly on-demand overhead surveillance. However, a capability gap has been identified between the range and endurance of RPAs powered by internal combustion engines (ICE) and the reduced acoustic signature and smaller logistical footprint associated with electric-powered RPAs. This research, sponsored by the Office of the Secretary of Defense, aims at advancing systems engineering education by evaluating the utility of a tailored systems engineering approach. The tailored systems engineering approach used herein focuses on conducting a concept evaluation study on the rapid prototype development of a parallel hybrid-electric RPA (HE-RPA) and its ability to fill an identified mission capability gap. The concept evaluation utilizes a tailored systems engineering process to conduct a rapid prototype development and system evaluation. Two prototype RPAs and a support system are designed, integrated, and tested within a 13 month time window, in accordance with an established architectural framework. The integration of a parallel hybrid-electric system into an RPA demonstrated a potential reduction in acoustic signature and improves endurance over electric powered RPAs; however, immature technology and added system complexity result in overall performance that is currently on par with ICE-powered RPAs and only partially satisfies the capability gap.

AFIT Designator


DTIC Accession Number



Co-authored thesis.