Chuck Hagel’s announcement earlier this week of proposed platform cuts for the US Air Force and army will shake up Washington’s military machine in a big way – if the Department of Defense’s fiscal year 2015 proposal survives first contact with Congress.
We’ve reported before about how the ground-attack-specialised A-10 could be flying towards a cost-saving fleet retirement post-Afghanistan, and also about how the OH-58D Kiowa Warrior could be retired without the need for an expensive Armed Aerial Scout procurement; ie use the Apache.
But one of the big battles now about to play out concerns the USAF’s delivery of high-altitude surveillance. The service last year detailed plans to halt the use of its Block 30 Global Hawks, as the manned U-2 (USAF image of the rivals below) could do the job at a lower operating cost. But now Hagel says that the 50-year-old type is for the chop, as the air force has found a way of making the Global Hawk more affordable to fly.
We’ll have a story appearing on Flightglobal soon about a new Lockheed effort to save the “Dragon Lady”; we can expect this one to get interesting.