Global Hawk ‘Essential To National Security’

U.S. Marine Corps Gen. James Cartwright has drafted a memo to senior
officials in the Office of the Secretary of Defense and four-star officers that
is likely to support certification of the Global Hawk program to move forward
despite a recent cost overrun.

In the document, Cartwright says the Joint Requirements Oversight Council
(JROC) revalidated the 2009 requirements and key performance parameters for
Global Hawk without amendment. He also says the system is “essential to national
security.” These are key items needed to move forward with a recertification of
the UAV program.

Cartwright is vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and chair of the
JROC.

The Pentagon notified Congress last month that the high-flying RQ-4 UAV
breached its original cost estimate by more than 25%. This overage triggers a
mandatory review and recertification of the program in accordance with the
Nunn-McCurdy statute. The recertification is expected within 60 days of the
cost-overrun notification.

Pentagon acquisition chief Ashton Carter is scheduled to review the Global
Hawk during a Defense Acquisition Board meeting today.

A large part of the Global Hawk overrun is a result of the Pentagon’s
decision to halve the projected buy of 22 Block 40 aircraft, which are designed
to carry the Multi-Platform Radar Technology Insertion Program (MP-RTIP) active,
electronically scanned array radar optimized for ground surveillance.

Other factors contributing to the overrun include the cost of handling
diminishing manufacturing sources and the establishment of depot activities for
the Global Hawk’s sensors, according to the Nunn-McCurdy notification letter
sent to Congress by Air Force Secretary Michael Donley.

Meanwhile, the Pentagon testing community is expected to finalize a report on
the initial operational test and evaluation phase soon.

Though still considered developmental, the Northrop Grumman-built UAV
continues to fly operations over Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Japan, and Central
and South America, among other areas.

Photo credit: U.S. Air Force

//

By Amy Butler
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