AUVSI: Pentagon budget crunch coming to UAVs, too

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The unmanned community is not immune to the Pentagon's current budgetary pressures, Dyke Weatherington, deputy director of unmanned warfare in the office of the secretary of defense, warned AUVSI conference-goers.

"It is unreasonable to expect that the Defense Department budgets are going to continue to rise as they have in years past," he says.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates announced a department-wide budget-crunching plan to save $100 billion in the spring. Since then major programs from the C-17 Globemaster III cargo plane to the unmanned RQ-4 Global Hawk have come under review - and sometimes under fire.

"We need to restore affordability to the Department of Defense," Weatherington said, with savings to come in large part from "hacking out inefficient programs and waste."

Unmanned systems have a solid track record for being innovative and still staying efficient, he says. "The challenge is to continue to do that in a more austere budget environment."