Jun 11, 2014

Global Hawk needs USD1.9 billion in upgrades before U-2 can retire

The RQ-4 Global Hawk unmanned surveillance aircraft still needs upgrades so that it can complete all the missions done by the manned Lockheed U-2, which the US Air Force (USAF) wants to retire to save money.
The necessary work consists of upgrades to ground stations, communications and imagery capability, and the Global Hawk's weather radar.
According to a USAF spokesman, the entire effort would cost USD1.9 billion over six years.
The service earlier this year reversed course on its 2012 plan to divest its new fleet of Global Hawk Block 30 and is now proposing to retire its U-2 fleet instead.
Just two years ago, the USAF said that the Global Hawk was too costly to fly. At the time, the air service's plan to mothball the UAVs was met with strong resistance in Congress.
This year, the Department of Defense said that it has been able to reduce the cost of flying RQ-4s and that it would prefer to retire the U-2 instead.

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