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U-2 vs Global Hawk

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posted on Mar, 27 2017 @ 04:00 PM
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Chris Pocock, who has written 4 books about the U-2 has weighed in on the U-2 vs Global Hawk debate, and had some interesting comments to make about it. His take basically boils down to Northrop is exaggerating their claims that the Global Hawk can surpass the U-2 capabilities, and that the Air Force needs to keep a mix of the two aircraft in their inventory.

The U-2 mission rate has been right at 97% in recent years, and the airframes have about another 20 years left on them. That's actually more than the Global Hawk. The Global Hawk has a lower ceiling than the U-2, and payload by weight is 50% that of the U-2. The improvements over the U-2 are loiter time, and the MS-177 sensor. But the U-2 is about to get the ASARS-2B, which will double the range over ASARS-2.

The Block 40 Global Hawk (11 airframes) has the MP-RTIP sensor, which is superior in the Moving Target Indicator, but the 21 Block 30 aircraft, which will replace the U-2s, according to the DOT&E director, has “previously identified ground station, air vehicle, communication system, and cybersecurity shortfalls”. A follow on T&E program was scheduled, but not completed.


Chris Pocock may know more about the U-2 than anyone who doesn’t possess a very high security clearance. He’s written four books about the planes and is passionate about the black beauties. Here’s his take on whether Northrop Grumman’s Global Hawk can rival or surpass the capabilities of the U-2. Read on. The Editor.

Northrop Grumman believes that it can “beef up” the sensor suite of the Global Hawk “to push its capabilities beyond those of the U-2.”

Really? How can this possibly happen, when this drone’s maximum altitude is at least 12,000 feet lower; it takes far longer to get there; its payload-by-weight is 50 percent less; its onboard recorder and comms/datalink capability for sensor transmission is inferior; and it has no electronic warfare capability? I could go on.

breakingdefense.com...




posted on Mar, 27 2017 @ 04:15 PM
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Some of it will as it always boils down to is politics. Which company lobbies more effectively with politicians to support one side or the other.

I agree however, that a mix of both would be the best thing going forward. The U-2 is RECCE what the B-52 is to bombing. A reliable and perhaps more importantly versatile platform that can adapt to a multitude of sensors etc.



posted on Mar, 27 2017 @ 06:48 PM
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a reply to: Zaphod58

Wasn't Lockheed teasing an optionally-manned upgrade to the Dragon Lady a year or two ago?

I feel like it's almost unfair to compare the Global Hawk to it, if only because the GH was pretty clearly meant to fill a very different role and fitting it to take over the U-2's niche is like trying to push the Rhino to do what the F-14 did. Politics pretty clearly won out on that one, I like to hope that clearer heads will prevail this time around and we get to keep both of these very different and very capable platforms.



posted on Mar, 27 2017 @ 06:49 PM
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a reply to: Barnalby

Yeah, they've talked about it a few times, but the interest hasn't been there. The feeling is that they don't need an optionally manned U-2 when they have the Global Hawk.

It's all going to boil down to who has the better lobbyists. Right now that's Northrop.



posted on Mar, 27 2017 @ 07:47 PM
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a reply to: Zaphod58

Could it also be that there might, *ahem* be another separate asset with a similar flight envelope and set of capabilities to the U-2 that the Global Hawk is being used as a stand-in for during non-classified discussions on the matter?



posted on Mar, 27 2017 @ 07:49 PM
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a reply to: Barnalby

I wouldn't be the least bit surprised. There has been a lot of odd activity over the years.



posted on Mar, 27 2017 @ 08:04 PM
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a reply to: Zaphod58

I can think of a couple HALE designs that might fit the bill



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