Global Hawk Program Trimmed

The Defense Department has reduced the Air Force’s planned buy of Northrop Grumman’s RQ-4 Global Hawk remotely piloted aircraft by 11 airframes, to 55, as part of a program overhaul. Pentagon acquisition executive Ash Carter notified Congress of the restructure this week. It came about as part of his office’s review of the RQ-4 program, per the Nunn-McCurdy law, due to large unit cost increases of late. Based on the review, Carter certified that the program is essential to national security and should continue, reported Bloomberg. But still the cut. The 11 aircraft dropped were all in the Block 30 configuration, designed to carry sophisticated imagery sensors and electronic eavesdropping equipment. An Air Force spokesman on Thursday confirmed that the revised program of record calls for seven Block 10 aircraft, six Block 20s, 31 Block 30s, and 11 Block 40s. This news comes on the heels of the 11-aircraft cut announced in February. Those airframes were all Block 40s, meant to host the MP-RTIP surveillance radar. According to Bloomberg, the Global Hawk program’s estimated cost is now $12.4 billion, down from $13.9 billion for 66 aircraft last December.