Well, despite the fact that Air Force leaders insist that the U-2 can get the same job done for less cash, lawmakers are forcing the service to keep the block 30 RQ-4 Global Hawk high-altitude spy done.
The Air Force announced it was mothballing the Block 30s and keep the U-2 dragonlady's that the RQ-4 was set to replace when it unvieled its new budget earlier this year. This was part of the Pentagon's efforts to save billions of dollars over the next decade. The only probelm, well Congress -- the same institution that ordered the massive cuts -- doesn't like the idea of shelving the existing RQ-4s.
So, during its markup of the FY-13 defense authorization bill, the House Armed Services Committee inserted $260 million to keep the the Air Force's 18 Block 30 Global Hawks in service.
From Aol Defense:
The first slice of that funding appeared this morning on page 7 of a 190-page document released by the personnel subcommittee, with a statement that " The committee recommends an increase in end strengths to reflect the corresponding manpower requirements to maintain 18 Air Force Block 30 RQ-4 Global Hawks." A House source confirmed that the procurement and operations & maintenance funding to operate the Global Hawks would be in other subcommittee marks being released today and tomorrow.No word yet on what this will mean for the U-2 fleet.