Drones do not always reign supreme
January 26th, 2012
03:00 PM ET

Drones do not always reign supreme

One interesting note in the new Pentagon budget proposal is that while there is going to be an increase overall in spending on technologies like drones, surveillance capabilities and cyberwarfare, in one case the old school way of doing things won out. For the Air Force, it turns out, the 1950s-era U2 surveillance plane is being chosen over the Global Hawk drone. Why? It's cheaper to fly the manned planes, the Pentagon explained in a just released document explaining the new budget:

When we initially invested in the Global Hawk Block 30 program, it held the promise of providing essentially the same capability as the U-­‐2 manned aircraft for significantly less money to both buy and operate. As the program has matured, these cost savings have not materialized and, at best, we project the future cost of Global Hawk Block 30 operations to be comparable with the U-­‐2. In this five-­‐year budget, the cost of the Global Hawk program would significantly exceed the cost of the U-­‐2 so we cancelled Global Hawk Block 30 and extended the U-­‐2 program. Although this is a significant disappointment, our experience with Global Hawk Block 30 will help other Global Hawk programs like the Air Broad Area Maritime Surveillance (BAMS).

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Filed under: Air Force • Defense Spending • drones • Military
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