The Air Force has big plans for its unmanned aerial vehicle force. According to Maj. Gen. Frank Faykes, the Air Force 2007 budget proposal contains $752 million for procurement and RDT&E for six Global Hawk UAVs and three ground stations in 2007 and requests $64 million to procure another seven air vehicles in 2008. USAF plans to phase out its high-flying U-2 reconnaissance aircraft, as its Global Hawk RQ-4 fleet grows. Faykes said the service also would increase the size and capability of its Predator UAV fleet. The 2007 budget proposal includes $349 million to procure 24 additional MQ-1 Predator A model aircraft and two of the larger MQ-9 Predator B variants. USAF plans to establish three Air National Guard and one Air Force Special Operations Command Predator squadrons in 2007.
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.