U-2 ready at Skunk Works Site 2

The Air Force is expanding its Open Mission Systems standard because it is working so well, Lt. Gen. Robert Otto, deputy chief of staff for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, said in a Monday interview with Breaking Defense. “Our acquisition community is looking to — maybe proliferate is too strong a word — but broaden the… Keep reading →

TR-X concept

WASHINGTON: “The world of manned reconnaissance is gone, and soon manned reconnaissance itself will be gone.” So says Charles E. Allen, whose opinion on such matters carries more weight than most. Charlie Allen joined the CIA in 1958 and spent the last seven of his 40 years there as assistant director of central intelligence for collection.… Keep reading →

U-2 landing

PALMDALE, CALIF.: Lockheed Martin is exploring building a stealthy successor to the U-2 as an answer to Northrop Grumman’s Global Hawk and the U-2’s impending retirement. Why a stealthy reconnaissance aircraft? Neither the U-2 nor Global Hawk can operate for long in what the military calls contested airspace. Ever since Gary Powers was shot down… Keep reading →


  PALMDALE, CALIF: The mountains are dry. The spaces are vast. The population is small. You wouldn’t think it to look around from the center of town, but this place hosts a remarkable array of the world’s smartest people who design and build America’s weapons. You get a few hints of the history of Palmdale as… Keep reading →

Airmen provide intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance

PENTAGON: We won’t know much about it, but protecting America’s military satellites and the data they gather and share is a key target of the 2016 service budget. Several senior Pentagon budget wallahs declined in the top-level budget briefings today to answer specific questions about the spending levels of what is known as Space Situational Awareness (SSA) and… Keep reading →

Gen. Mike Hostage at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan in 2013.

“Our industrial base has eroded and we’re reducing our military down to a skeletal size at a time when the world is looking crazier by the day,” Gen. Mike Hostage told reporters Tuesday at the Air Force Association’s annual conference. “[But] there is nothing happening right now that is going to make sequestration go away, so… Keep reading →

Global Hawk prepares for flying mission

UPDATED: Sen. Leahy, 12 Other Senators, Decry Planned Guard Cuts To Hagel (6:20 PM Monday) PENTAGON: Congress and the Pentagon are likely to battle for most of the rest of this year over the administration’s budget plans: to retire the U-2 (again); to retire half the Navy’s current cruiser fleet; to trim and consolidate pay… Keep reading →

[UPDATED with Lt. Gen. James comment] WASHINGTON: Northrop Grumman is in talks with the the Air Force to keep the service’s 18 “Block 30″ Global Hawks flying through at least September 2013, Breaking Defense has learned. That’s a win for Northrop and its backers in Congress over Air Force budgeteers who wanted to ground the long-range drones.

The service’s 2013 budget plan would have mothballed the Block 30 variant of the Global Hawk to save money, arguing that the venerable U-2 spyplane could better meet theater commanders’ needs for reconnaissance. (Other Global Hawk variants with different capabilities, Block 20 and Block 40, were never in question). That idea was resoundingly rejected by Congress — and quietly questioned by some in the military who appreciated the Block 30’s capabilities, including much longer flight times than any manned aircraft could endure. So, in his confirmation hearings, new Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh told Senators that the drones would continue to operate. But Northrop Grumman’s existing contract to support Block 30 operations around the world was set to expire at the end of this month. Keep reading →

A year has passed since Congress passed and President Obama signed into law the Budget Control Act-the legislation mandating sequestration. Funding cuts that once seemed politically remote now loom large for leaders increasingly anxious about the impact $1.2 trillion in automatic budget reductions will have upon their respective districts and states. An estimated two million jobs at risk is a possibility no lawmaker can ignore.

Sequestration threatens the country’s ability to allow those in uniform to do their jobs. To understand what it means in real terms, look at the Air Force. Over the past decade, the service has been hit with numerous cuts and now the 2013 budget risks pushing airmen over the brink. There comes a point when people simply cannot do more with less. Unless Congress passes a sustainable and viable alternative to the Budget Control Act, challenges arising in the Air Force will be mirrored throughout the Army, Navy and Marine Corps — curtailing the number of key policy options upon which our nation’s leaders depend. Keep reading →

THE PENTAGON: The Air Force is attempting to buy and build its way out of the hole it created by canceling the latest variant of the Global Hawk program, service officials said today.

Service officials want to pour billions into new unmanned aircraft and revamp its current intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance fleet as part of its $154.2 billion budget request for fiscal 2013 sent to Capitol Hill today. Service officials are hoping that investment will close the capabilities gap created by the termination of the Block 30 version of the Global Hawk. Service officials opted to kill the venerable ISR drone as a way to meet a $54 billion cost-cutting goal set by the White House earlier this year. Keep reading →

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