> our title:

How New Pentagon Cuts Affect UAV Programs

> original title:

How New Pentagon Plans Affect UAV Programs

(Source: edited by defense-aerospace.com; issued Jan. 27, 2012)

In preparing this budget, we endeavored to avoid the mistakes of previous draw-downs that attempted to maintain more force structure than the budget could afford. Readiness suffered as a result, leading to a hollow force, which took years of investment to reverse. Our approach to readiness recognizes that after a decade of focus on counter‐insurgency operations, the U.S. armed forces must re‐hone other capabilities needed for a wider spectrum of missions and adversaries. (…/…)

Because we will continue to be engaged in counter terrorism operations around the globe, we protected key components of the force that are adept in executing this mission:

-- Special forces (…/…);

-- Unmanned Air Systems - fund enough trained personnel, infrastructure, and platforms to sustain 65 USAF MQ-­‐1/9 combat air patrols (CAPs) with a surge capacity of 85;

-- the Predator aircraft was retained longer than previously planned, allowing us to slow the buy of the Reaper aircraft and gain some savings;

-- we also protected funding for the Army’s unmanned air system, Gray Eagle;

-- Sea‐based unmanned intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) systems such as Fire Scout;

-- important ISR assets where ground basing is not available;

-- Advanced ISR -- new unmanned systems with increased capabilities (…/…)

In order to sustain the highest priority investments, we made substantial reductions to programs that:

--Are offering or augmenting capability that already exists, but at significantly higher cost:

* Joint Air‐to‐Ground Munition (JAGM): significantly reduced, but limited funding sustained to enable lower cost alternatives such as Hellfire;

* Global Hawk Block 30: terminated

Global Hawk Block 30 Termination
When we initially invested in the Global Hawk Block 30 program, it held the promise of providing essentially the same capability as the U‐2 manned aircraft for significantly less money to both buy and operate.

As the program has matured, these cost savings have not materialized and, at best, we project the future cost of Global Hawk Block 30 operations to be comparable with the U-2. In this five‐year budget, the cost of the Global Hawk program would significantly exceed the cost of the U‐2 so we cancelled Global Hawk Block 30 and extended the U‐2 program.

Although this is a significant disappointment, our experience with Global Hawk Block 30 will help other Global Hawk programs like the Air Force Global Hawk Block 40, NATO’s Alliance Ground Air Surveillance, and the Navy’s Broad Area Maritime Surveillance (BAMS).

Click here for the Pentagon’s Budget Priorities document (16 pages in PDF format) on the DoD website.