23/06/2020

RQ-4's to be retired in 2021 if certain conditions will be met

House lawmakers put limits on the Air Force’s planned Global Hawk divestment – link

Source: Defense News

Article Headlines

  • The House Armed Services Committee will allow the Air Force to retire a portion of its RQ-4 Global Hawk surveillance drone inventory in fiscal year 2021 as long as it can meet certain conditions
  • In its FY21 budget request, the Air Force proposed retiring all 21 of its Global Hawk Block 30 aircraft as well as three Block 20 drones modified to the EQ-4B Battlefield Airborne Communication Network variant, leaving its remaining RQ-4 Block 40s to carry out the high-altitude surveillance mission along with the U-2
  • HASC’s tactical air and land forces subcommittee’s markup of the FY21 defense authorization act stipulates that the service can move forward with retiring the Block 30 drones if it meets one of two conditions:
    • Ellen Lord, as the Pentagon’s top acquisition official, must certify that the replacement for the RQ-4 will cost less to operate and sustain, and Gen. John Hyten, in his position as the chairman of the Joint Requirements Oversight Council, must also attest that the replacement would result in equal or greater capability available to combatant commands
    • As an alternative, Defense Secretary Mark Esper can endorse the retirement of these RQ-4 aircraft, even if the replacement’s operating and sustainment costs are higher
  • If the Air Force moves forward with the retirement of the Block 30 Global Hawks as planned, it will lose half of the funding authorized for the Advanced Battle Management System, a key priority of the service that aims to connect all of the military’s sensors and weapon systems together
  • Throughout the legislation, HASC lawmakers make clear their reluctance to curtail spending on existing drones and special mission aircraft like the E-8 Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System when the Air Force’s plans for replacing them are unclear

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