AUVSI: Northrop Grumman attacks appropriations staffer for RQ-4 funding cut

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A Northrop Grumman executive yesterday stunned journalists by criticizing by name a staff member for the powerful House Appropriations Committee.

The staff member for the defense subcommittee is responsible for cutting $415 million, or enough to buy seven RQ-4s for the US Air Force and Navy, Ed Walby, Northrop's Global Hawk business development director, said during a press conference.

Walby also said the funding cut would result in 14,000 lost jobs linked to the program and more deaths of US soldiers in combat.

"It's a good cut if you want to save the taxpayers money, but I think soldiers' lives are more important than $300 million or $400 million," Walby says.

Contacted by Flight Daily News, the staff member referred questions about Walby's comments to a press officer, who was not immediately available. This publication is not disclosing the name of the staffer.

The House appropriators specifically cut $270 million for procurement of three RQ-4B Block 40s, and $50 million more for advance procurement of three more, Walby says. The committee also removed $85 million to buy one RQ-4N for the USN's broad area maritime surveillance (BAMS) program.

Northrop was scheduled to deliver the Block 40 aircraft in Fiscal 2012 to start operational testing. But testing for a new version of the Block 20 system the US Air Force to delay the evaluation until at least FY2013, Walby says.

Walby notes that both the vehicle and Block 40's wide area sensor developed under the multi-platform radar technology insertion program are ready to begin testing on schedule.