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Unmanned vs Manned - Global Hawk costs more than U2 to operate

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Unmanned vs Manned - Global Hawk costs more than U2 to operate

Old 2nd Feb 2012, 18:20
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Unmanned vs Manned - Global Hawk costs more than U2 to operate

Interesting little snippet from the "Air Force Strategic Choices and Budget Priorities Brief at the Pentagon" on 27 January 2012.

The reality is that the Global Hawk system has proven not to be less expensive to operate than the U-2. And in many respects, the Global Hawk Block 30 system is not as capable from a sensor point of view, as is the U-2. And so we have made the choice, as the deputy secretary mentioned yesterday -- cancel the Block 30 program.
PS. "not to be less expensive" = more expensive!

Defense.gov News Transcript: Air Force Strategic Choices and Budget Priorities Brief at the Pentagon

Thanks to LurkerBelow for the tag in the USAF writes off another aircraft - $224M worth thread.

http://www.pprune.org/military-aircr...24m-worth.html
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Old 2nd Feb 2012, 18:48
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It's a lot less of a problem than the U2 politically.
You can't parade the non-existent pilot when he's shot down where he shouldn't be.
You can always claim technical malfunction for it being where it shouldn't be.
You can't chop a CPU's head/nuts off.
The media can't interview the pilot, and there's no human interest angle.

So, all in all, it's a lot easier to do stuff that doesn't go down well with voters.

And it will be a lot easier in the near future for politicians to order very dodgy activities without any conscientious operator in the loop.
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Old 2nd Feb 2012, 19:47
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Global Hawk, the U-2 & your 2012 banana

A reply to Fox3WheresMyBanana .....

I agree with you.

The balance has shifted. In the old days when I was a recce pilot, getting the info was priority.

Now the task is to get the info without being caught, compromised, or failing your country & government.

UAVs have contributed enormously in a recce sense in a modern conflict firepower sense & and in the all important political sense.

As stated so many times by Parliaments in many countries, our politicians come first and control the modern military.



That's life in 2012!
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Old 2nd Feb 2012, 19:56
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The Global Chicken also required more personnel than the U2 to get it airborne and complete a mission.
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Old 2nd Feb 2012, 20:23
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The politicians always have Controlled the military, and long may it remain so.

However, what's scary now is that the politicians think they know what they're doing well enough to Command the military, despite having an awful lot less military experience than, say, 30 years ago. That muppet Blair even skived out of CCF at school.

Hence, regime change in Iraq (UN Charter out the window) and drone bombings of wedding parties (Geneva Convention up in smoke). Which means it's a bit difficult to claim the protection of said Institutions when it suits us.
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Old 3rd Feb 2012, 14:42
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Did they factor in the readiness rate of U-2's at all? I am somewhat familiar with how one cooks the books to make readiness look better than it actually is, but here's what I saw when I worked with that platform a few years back.

Unlike other airframes, the U-2 seemed to have an inordinate number of cases of "this part isn't working today" (which means a collection fail or a mission scrub) and "we have to RTB, that's gone out again" (yet another mission scrub) during routine missions.

Granted, the unit we were working with may have been going through one of those bad patches (things going wrong tend to come in clumps) so my view of the U-2 (for all of the neat stuff it does/did) may be unfairly jaundiced.

Sorry to see Global Hawk NOT living up to its original promise. Had great hopes for that bird.
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Old 5th Feb 2012, 16:33
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Unmanned vs Manned - Global Hawk costs more than U2 to operate

Unlike other airframes, the U-2 seemed to have an inordinate number of cases of "this part isn't working today" (which means a collection fail or a mission scrub) and "we have to RTB, that's gone out again" (yet another mission scrub) during routine missions.
The statement above appears to be a casual observation rather than fact.

I flew the J-75 U-2 for 5 years and it was rare that a planned mission failed to produce results. Sometimes cloud cover intervened, or contrails were being made which is about the last thing you wish to happen. But the cameras, ELINT, deceptive jammers and sensor kit, which were all state of the art, usually worked as advertised.

The biggest problems in pre INS/GPS days were in not launching to the minute planned. This then threw off all pre-computed navigation sextant shots: delays of 10 mins or so were no problem, but the occasional long tedious wait for a go/nogo authorisation from above was not much fun sitting in a small cockpit in a pressure suit. All in all, Kelly Johnson produced a fantastic aircraft so good at high altitude long range missions that it is still in service more than 50 years after it first flew missions in earnest.

If only the current crop of UAVs could do as well, we could indeed replace the pilot who is both a real-time systems & aircraft manager with an electronic package!

It will happen, but it seems not as soon as we would wish.
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Old 5th Feb 2012, 17:15
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This says it all really, GH is too expensive...

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Old 6th Feb 2012, 10:27
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As I read the story, they are not scrapping those they have, just not buying anymore because it's cheaper to keep the U2 in service
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Old 6th Feb 2012, 14:44
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For rubberband:

My experience in working with U-2s was circa 2004 - 2005. Don't know when your operating experience was. The frequency of us losing the mission, or elements of it (due to one of a variety of subsystems going wrong), was high enough to get out of the noise level.

No further comment, as
1) any data I had on that was turned over to my relief when I left that job and
2) actual metrics on that system still covered by an NDA, and NOT for publication.

Given how precious the assets were to our mission, we sometimes felt the loss of a mission more keenly than other times. When they work, you get some great products out of them.

Cheers.
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