Warplanes: July 7, 2002


The price of the Global Hawk recon drone has mushroomed to $73 million, and the Air Force is studying ways to reduce the program cost. The original idea was to buy 38 aircraft, each with all of the sensors including electro-optical/infrared, signals processing, radar imagery, and electronic warfare. The plan appears to be shifting toward the idea of 13 aircraft optimized for special missions and 25 multi-mission aircraft (using a cheaper Synthetic Aperture Radar instead of the Radar Technology Insertion Program), but various combinations of aircraft with all of the sensors and aircraft with only some of them are under study. --Stephen V Cole


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