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This site is the inspiration of a former reporter/photographer for one of New England's largest daily newspapers and for various magazines. The intent is to direct readers to interesting political articles, and we urge you to visit the source sites. Any comments may be noted on site or directed to KarisChaf at gmail.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Pentagon cost-cuttting: Change manned spy plane of the past to super drone of the future -- Air Force proposes adding sensors to Global Hawk, phasing out U-2 spy plane -- By Maggie Ybarra, The Washington Times

Defense officials say they have found a way to achieve much-needed cost cuts while weeding out wasteful duplication in the nation's aerial spying program: Remove expensive sensors from the Pentagon's aging U-2 spy planes and attach them to Global Hawk surveillance drones.

It's uncertain, however, whether Congress will consider the plan, which is among the more eye-opening aspects of the Obama administration's vast defense budget restructuring.

According to an internal Air Force memo obtained by The Washington Times, the Pentagon wants to spend roughly $2 billion enhancing its fleet of Global Hawk drones over the coming decade, with about $500 million to transfer the sensors.

Doing so, defense officials say, could let the Pentagon phase out the U-2 plane. Congress has been trying to thwart such a move for years because of concern that the Global Hawk drones are neither as cost-efficient nor as effective as the iconic spy plane that dates back to the Eisenhower era and has been involved in numerous Cold War showdowns.

It's a battle between old and new technologies — in this case, a jet with a pilot and an unmanned drone — with which the Pentagon is all too familiar. In recent years, Congress has passed legislation that forced the Defense Department to continue flying both types of aircraft, resulting in a messy spending overlap plaguing one of the military's most futuristic programs.

The challenge, defense analysts say, is for the Pentagon to convince Congress that harvesting advanced sensor equipment from U-2s will result in a fleet of Global Hawk drones that are more cost- and mission-effective over the long term than either of the aircraft is in its present status.

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