Thu, Jan 26, 2012
Northrop Grumman Had Been Developing Unmanned U-2
The Air Force had reportedly decided to pull funding for the
Northrop Grumman Global Hawk program, and extending the life of the
cold-war-vintage U-2 through at least 2020.
The move is part of broad defense cutbacks in the Pentagon's
2013 budget, according to a report from Reuters. An official who is
not authorized to speak to the media told the news service that the
Block 30 variant of the Global Hawk is cut from the budget Congress
will receive in February.
The airframes for the UAVs reportedly cost some $30 million
each, and that's before any sensors or other payloads are included.
They have the ability to fly as high as FL600 for up to 24 hours
USAF Chief of Staff General Norman Schwartz told Reuters only
that the service would "end up doing what gives us the best
capability for the least cost."
Northrop Grumman is also developing a maritime version of the
aircraft for the Navy, and the Air Force may consider deploying
that version, which carries different sensors.
Congress will consider the Global Hawk cancellation as part of
the overall Pentagon budget, which cuts $487 billion over the next
10 years. As was observed in the F136 alternate engine program,
among others, being cut by the Pentagon does not necessarily mean
the end of the program. (USAF Image)
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