The Pentagon’s proposed fiscal 2013 budget includes about $1.2 billion to buy three additional advanced versions of Northrop Grumman (NOC) Corp.’s Global Hawk surveillance drone, according to a U.S. government official.
The Pentagon also proposes to continue an $11 billion Navy program to continue developing a maritime version of the RQ-4 Global Hawk that is flying surveillance missions over the Persian Gulf, said the official, who has knowledge of the Defense Department’s budget plans.
The proposed budget would buy three additional so-called Block 40 drones equipped with a sophisticated Raytheon Co. (RTN) sensor capable of simultaneously snapping detailed ground maps and tracking moving targets, said the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he isn’t authorized to discuss the budget publicly. The Air Force already has 11 of these latest models delivered or on contract, according to service and Northrop data.
The Pentagon Director of Operational Test and Evaluation in its latest annual report said the sensor, called the Radar Technology Insertion Program, “met nearly all system performance specifications with improved sensor stability.”
The official said the Pentagon also has accepted an Air Force recommendation to reduce its purchases of the third- generation Global Hawk, called the Block 30, and shift money to continued operations and maintenance of the high-altitude Lockheed Martin Corp. (LMT) U-2 manned reconnaissance aircraft, which first entered service in the mid-1950s.
The decision to forgo buying the last 10 Block 30s is the second major reduction in the Global Hawk program in less than a year. Last June, then-chief Pentagon weapons buyer Ashton Carter directed that 11 Block 30 Global Hawks be cut because of cost growth.
The Air Force previously purchased 14 Block 30 Global Hawks, and Northrop is under contract to deliver four more, according to company data.
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