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USAF cancels Global Hawks in favour of extended U-2 service

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  • USAF cancels Global Hawks in favour of extended U-2 service

    WASHINGTON: The Air Force's RQ-4 Global Hawk unmanned aircraft appears to be the latest big-ticket program to fall victim to the Pentagon's budget axe.

    The venerable intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance drone will be nixed as part of the Air Force's upcoming fiscal 2013 budget proposal, according to Loren Thompson, a consultant and defense analyst. Specifically, the Air Force will retire the Block 30 variants of the drone already in the service's fleet and end production of the platform entirely, he wrote.

    The decision comes as Global Hawk-manufacturer Northrop Grumman is developing a new Block 40 version of the drone for the Air Force and a maritime version -- known as the Broad Area Maritime Surveillance system -- for the Navy. The cancellation also comes at a time when company officials have been aggressively pushing the Global Hawk into foreign markets. Deals with NATO, South Korea, Japan and Australia were potentially on the table until today's announcement.
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