U.S. Air Force to kill Global Hawk UAV; extends life of U-2 aircraft into 2020s.

Avionics specialists with the 12th Aircraft Maintenance Unit prepare a…

Avionics specialists with the 12th Aircraft Maintenance Unit prepare a Global Hawk for a runway taxi test at Beale Air Force Base, California. United States Air Force photo by Stacey Knott.

The U.S. Air Force has decided to scrap its Northrop Grumman high-altitude unmanned surveillance plane program and instead extend the life of its U-2 aircraft into the 2020s, according to a government official and a defense analyst.

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Image: Flickr as Northrop Grumman RQ-4 Global Hawk; Author Jim Gordon.

Loren Thompson, chief operating officer of the Virginia-based Lexington Institute, said the Air Force decision was based on the cost of the Global Hawk unmanned planes, and that the service would investigate using a Marine version with different sensors that Northrop is developing for the Navy.

The Northrop drone is one of dozens of weapons programs that face cancellation or cutbacks in the Pentagon’s fiscal 2013 budget and five-year plan, which begins to implement $487 billion in spending cuts over the next decade.

Source: Andrea Shalal-Esa for Reuters via Aviation Week.

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  • Richard

    No suprise after lose unman aircraft in Iran.