Global Hawk high-altitude unmanned aerial vehicles will soon be flying three times a week at Beale AFB, Calif., Ed Walby of Northrop Grumman said in Washington Tuesday. The 9th Reconnaissance Wing at Beale currently flies the Global Hawk twice a week, performing multiple sorties, he said during a briefing at the Unmanned Systems Symposium and Exhibition. Northrop is working on fielding Block 40 Global Hawks, but he said if the full Congress passes a proposed 2008 program reduction, there would be a delay. “That would delay a lot … it would delay fielding Block 40, and it would probably delay the second main operating base,” Walby asserted, referring to Grand Forks, AFB, N.D., where the Air National Guard’s 119th Wing would operate the large UAV in addition to the Predator UAV. “The Air Force has chosen Grand Forks as a Block 40 location,” he explained, adding that the cut would delay the program by at least a year.
The Air Force overall reduced its size by 120 aircraft in fiscal year 2021, but kept about the same number of fighter, bomber and attack aircraft, according to data supplied by the service. The F-35 fleet saw the biggest increase while the B-1B bomber fleet saw the largest decline.