As the Pentagon looks to define a path forward for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft, two giants in the aerospace community are battling for a piece of the action.
Right now, the Air Force’s plan of record is to replace Lockheed Martin’s infamous U-2 spy plane with Northrop Grumman’s RQ-4 Global Hawk, an unmanned, long-range surveillance platform. The Air Force recently pushed back the U-2s planned retirement date from 2016 to 2019, allowing more time to upgrade the Global Hawk before putting the U-2 to rest.
All signs indicate the Air Force is sticking to this plan. The service recently awarded Northrop won a $3.2 billion contract to continue sustainment and modernization work on the Global Hawk through 2025, with new orders to be made by Sept. 30, 2020.