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Exclusive: With an Eye Toward China, Pentagon Weighs Slashing Global Hawk Drone With an Eye Toward China, Pentagon Weighs...
Just months after Iran shot down an expensive U.S. surveillance drone over the Strait of Hormuz, the Defense Department is weighing scrapping about two-thirds of the Air Force’s roughly three dozen Global Hawk unmanned aircraft as part of a shift toward building the new capabilities needed to counter China and Russia.
The Air Force has proposed retiring as many as 21 of its 35 RQ-4 Global Hawk high-altitude drones, which currently collect intelligence across the Middle East and elsewhere, as part of a series of steep cuts to legacy programs, current and former U.S. defense officials told Foreign Policy. The proposal has been submitted to the Office of the Secretary of Defense for review as part of annual budget negotiations.
“The Air Force continues to refine its budget submission,” Air Force spokeswoman Ann Stefanek said. “We don’t expect details to be available until the President’s Budget is submitted to Congress in February 2020.”
The proposed cut is part of the Pentagon’s shift from the counterterrorism fight of the last few decades toward so-called great-power threats from China and Russia. The strategy was laid out in the Pentagon’s guiding doctrine, the National Defense Strategy, rolled out by then-Defense Secretary James Mattis in January 2018.
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