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The US Air Force does not intend to keep the Block 30 Northrop Grumman RQ-4B Global Hawk in service past the end of calendar year 2014 because the Lockheed Martin U-2 and other "classified platforms" can take-over its mission, senior service leaders told the US Congress on 17 April. However, service officials acknowledge that it will be hard to convince Congress to go along with the USAF's plans.
"We did not do that without carefully considering how we'd cover that mission with the U-2 and other classified platforms," says Lt Gen Charles Davis, military deputy for the office of the assistant secretary of the air force for acquisitions.
“We did not do that without carefully looking at how we cover that with the U-2 and other classified platforms,” Davis said, adding that “you’d probably need to go into detail with in another forum”, a form of words indicating a classified session.
“We have pretty much heavily funded ISR for a very permissive environment for a couple of decades,” Davis continued. “We are in the process of trying to look at all the assets, with our operational requirements and intelligence requirements, to rationalize a program that has operated almost totally uncontested and prepare it for a scenario where it is not going to have that freedom.”