There are a whole lot of enlisted airmen interested in flying the Air Force's RQ-4 Global Hawk surveillance drone.
Flying RQ-4 Global Hawk drones will no longer be a job exclusive to officers, as the USAF is now allowing enlisted personnel to operate the recon UAV.
A US Air Force feasibility stud has found that the sensors and cameras from the U-2 spy plane can be adapted to work on the RQ-4 Global Hawk drone.
For the US Air Force, the dominance of drones has been bad news for some of the branch's most iconic aircraft. For the iconic U-2 "Dragon Lady," though, its manufacturer is fighting for the plane's future. Lockheed Martin is pushing the USAF to redevelop a trio of the high-flying jets so that they can be flown without a pilot in the cockpit.
America's use of drones in southeast Asia and the waters around China has been a bit of a contentious issue between the two countries, and now, it's starting to get really heated, as the People's Republic has successfully tested a drone-killing laser.
A whistleblower lawsuit is casting light on some questionable testing practices at defense contractor Northrop Grumman. According to Todd Donaldson, the Northrop employee filing the suit, the company sold GPS systems to the Department of Defense after faking a crucial part of testing.
The US Navy's MQ-4C Triton drone has completed its first cross-country flight, traveling over 3,300 miles at altitudes up to 50,000 feet from Palmdale, CA along the southern border, towards Florida before turning north and heading up the Atlantic seaboard before landing at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, in Maryland.
With $10 billion in development costs, the Global Hawk UAV has been an expensive proposition for the US Air Force over the course of its 15-year life. The huge UAV – its wingspan is nearly 30-feet wider than a U-2 spy plane and it's only two feet shorter than an F-16 – has become a critical vehicle for the US military, although as Foxtrot Alpha explains, that significance isn't necessarily due to its reconnaissance abilities.
Today, America's armed forces aren't known for its aircraft carriers, fighter jets, tanks or guns – it's known for its drones. Whether they be Predators, Reapers, Global Hawks or something that takes up slightly less headline space, the US use of drones has been the single most identifying feature of America's military in the past several years.
With news that Japan was increasing its spending on drone surveillance, American defense manufacturers have apparently sensed blood in the water and swooped in on the island nation hoping to cash in.
Japan is surging ahead with plans to seriously increase its drone fleet in the face of its ongoing territorial disputes with China and a typically difficult North Korea. The country, which until recently had an exceptionally restrictive section of its constitution that limited any belligerence, will increase its investment in UAVs by 300 percent.