Make Up Your Mind

Key Republican leaders in both the House and the Senate questioned the thinking behind the Air Force’s decision to vertically cut the U-2 fleet in its Fiscal 2015 budget request, which will officially be presented to Congress next week. When Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced his budget recommendations on Monday, he recommended replacing the U-2 fleet with the RQ-4 Global Hawk remotely piloted aircraft. Then almost immediately, Hagel noted that if sequester continues the Air Force would have to cut the Block 40 element of the Global Hawk, Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, told defense reporters during an event in Washington, D.C., Thursday. That’s “one-third of the whole fleet. So, on one hand, [Hagel is] saying [the Global Hawk] is going to pick up the slack that’s left there by the U-2 being deactivated, and then he’s saying that we’re going to be cutting that too,” said Inhofe. During the same event, Rep. Buck McKeon (R-Calif.), chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, said the Defense Department needs to stop talking as if more sequester relief is coming. “Sequestration is going to [continue.] Why not plan on it,” asked McKeon. (See also RPA Math.)