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1955 U-2 Spy Planes Outperform Latest Drones

Written by Gary North on April 18, 2012

The Defense Department now admits what it denied a year ago: the latest models Global Hawk drones don’t work. So, it’s another $3.5 billion down the drain — or up in smoke, whichever you prefer.

It turns out that these high-tech wonder don’t work as well as the ancient U-2 spy planes do. The government will still use U-2s.

In 1960, the Soviets shot down a U-2. But that’s still the best we’ve got, according to the Defense Department.

Of course, the manufacturer that produced the scrapped Golden Hawks has not been penalized in any way. This is the government.

These turkeys cost about $175 million each. Now 30 of them will be stored somewhere. Of course, they will be heavily — and expensively — guarded. But that will be cheaper than deploying them.

The Block 30s in particular were the subject of a scathing internal Defense Department report last May which claimed that in operational testing in 2010, the drones failed to provide adequate coverage of a target area more than half of the time they were in the air. The report said then that the drone was “not operationally suitable.” . . .

Around the same time as that admission, Pentagon acquisitions chief Ashton Carter wrote a letter to Congress describing the program’s faults, but essentially saying the U.S. military was stuck with it.

So, the Pentagon will buy upgraded U-2’s.

Waste? Of course. It’s business as usual at the Pentagon.

“They could’ve had a side-by-side comparison years ago to see if [the Global Hawk] could compete with the U-2,” Wheeler told ABC News today. “But they went through the typical technological assumption that this is a step forward, that this will be better and cheaper… [except] it’s both more expensive and not as good.”

Representatives for Northrop Grumman declined to comment to ABC News for this report, except to point to a statement posted on the company’s website that notes the company’s “disappointment” in the Air Force’s decision to drop the Block 30s.

“Global Hawk is the modern solution to providing surveillance. It provides long duration persistent surveillance, and collects information using multiple sensors on the platform,” the statement says. “In contrast, the aging U-2 program, first introduced in the 1950s, places pilots in danger, has limited flight duration, and provides limited sensor capacity. Extending the U-2’s service life also represents additional investment requirements for that program.”

So, the program is dead, right?


Wheeler said that Northrop Grumman is likely to push hard to get the Block 30s back in the military’s arsenal, something Schwartz left plenty of room for in his testimony.

“We will put the platforms into recoverable storage,” he said. “We’re not talking about breaking the birds up. We want to be able to have access to them and as circumstances change, perhaps there will be a time when they come out of storage.”

“We’re not giving up on the Global Hawk by any means,” one Pentagon spokesman said.

And so it goes. So it will always go until the government finally goes bankrupt, which it will.

This is the system that voters trust to defend them.

Defend them from whom? Why does the Pentagon need spy planes? Who is the enemy?

The taxpayer, of course.

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3 thoughts on “1955 U-2 Spy Planes Outperform Latest Drones

  1. pastorvon says:

    If Gary Powers had flown his U-2 properly, the Russians would never have been "able"(?) to "shhot"(?) it down.

  2. sean murry says:

    i remember when it happen.

  3. In what way did Gary Powers not fly the U-2 properly?