Slow Orders for Larger Predator UAV: Tom Cassidy, head of General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, told us last week at AFA’s Air Warfare Symposium that he is surprised that the Air Force has not entered into long-term, multi-year buys for the larger model Predator B. “The B is a fabulous airplane,” Cassidy said. He did say that GAAS has an option to ramp up to 22 of the B-model UAVs, but he maintained that the Air Force “needs to move quicker.” Word from the Air Force budget brief is that USAF has two B models budgeted for 2006 and 2007 delivery, with a total of 14 on contract. And, USAF officials said that some developmental Bs are deployed to Southwest Asia.
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.