Analyst says budget cuts will force Air Force to drop drone program

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Thompson wrote that cutting the Global Hawk drone, which can travel longer distances than the U-2, does not make sense in the new U.S. military strategy with a focus on the Asia-Pacific region.

“The Global Hawk far surpasses U-2 and other airborne surveillance systems in a facet of performance deemed crucial to the vast distances of the Pacific: endurance,” Thompson wrote.

The Pentagon is preparing to cut $487 billion from its budget over the next decade, and Panetta will lay out the first details of that plan Thursday.

Reuters, which first reported the drone program cut, said that retiring the drone program would cap Northrop’s Air Force drones at 21 planes, 10 fewer than planned.