Senate Authorizers Agree to Axe Global Hawk Block 30s

The Senate Armed Services Committee last week became the first congressional defense oversight panel thus far to agree to the Air Force’s proposal to retire the RQ-4 Global Hawk Block 30 remotely piloted aircraft fleet next fiscal year. The committee’s mark-up of the Pentagon’s Fiscal 2013 budget request “upholds the termination” of the Global Hawk Block 30s, according to the SASC’s May 24 release highlighting the panel’s changes to the budget request. The committee said it would apply unexpended funds appropriated for these aircraft in Fiscal 2011 and Fiscal 2012—some $545 million—”to pay for priorities” in next fiscal year’s budget. The Air Force proposed divesting the Block 30s since it wants to continue operating its manned U-2 reconnaissance aircraft for longer. The House’s version of next fiscal year’s defense authorization bill would keep these Global Hawks in service. House defense appropriators also blocked the Air Force from retiring the Block 30s next fiscal year.