Photo: Northrop Grumman
The Air Force has announced it will go ahead with its purchase of a fleet of Global Hawk spy drones to replace the nation’s ageing U-2 spy planes, despite cost-overruns, delays, and technical problems.According to The Economic Times, the Air Force will spend $12 billion and the Navy $11 billion on 55 Global Hawks bringing the total for each drone to $218 million.
This despite tests showing the new model is unable to provide sustained surveillance, has parts that fail, and communication systems that can’t locate transmission sources.
And in an era in which remotely piloted planes are seen as relatively cheap and easy solutions, the Global Hawk has become the Escalade of drones, the gold-plated one that nearly broke the bank.
“The Global Hawk is a very impressive product, but it is also a very expensive product,” said Richard L. Aboulafia, an aviation analyst at the Teal Group, a consultancy in Fairfax, Va. “Those U-2s were paid for a long time ago.”
U.S. officials and executives from Northrop Grumman insist they’re trimming costs and replacing parts, pointing out the Global Hawk has done a splendid job of taking pictures of the Fukushima quake and bombing damage in war zones.
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