11 January 2006

Reconnaissance Aircraft

A couple of developments have surfaced today in the world of U.S. military reconnaisance aircraft.

First, the venerable U-2, of which the Air Force has 33, is scheduled to be replaced over the next five years by about 40 Global Hawk Unmanned Aerial Vehicles(UAVs). "Both aircraft are similar in size and carry similar sensor packages, but the lack of a pilot enables the Global Hawk to stay in the air twice as long (24 hours.)" This is a good move, for once. Both the U-2 and the Global Hawk are basically glorified low alititude spy satellites. They don't need pilots, and history has shown us the risks associated with putting pilots on U-2s.

Second, a Lockheed Martin signals intelligence plane for the Army, part of the the "Aerial Common Sensor" program has received a $2 billion (60%) budget cut from Army budget planners, which could cost hundreds of high paying jobs in Jefferson County, Colorado, a part of the Denver metropolitian area. "The spy plane would primarily be used to intercept enemy radio and radar transmissions." The cut is driven by the fact that the mission payload grew to 15,000 pounds which was more than the Brazilian made off the shelf jet, that was to house the electronic equipment, could carry.


Kyle said...

Hah well I never thought the U2 was very glorified, but your comment about being low altitude sattelites makes a lot of sense. Thanks for keeping us updated, I appreciate these military technology posts.

Andrew Oh-Willeke said...

Update: The Aerial Common Sensor program has been cancelled entirely.