Northrop 'disappointed' its drone lost out to U-2

"The Global Hawk program has demonstrated its utility in U.S. military operations in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya, as well as its utility in humanitarian operations in Japan and Haiti,” the company said.

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“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 said. “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.”

Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said Thursday that the Block 30, one of four variants of the Global Hawk, “priced itself out of the niche for taking pictures in the air.”

“We will continue to use the U-2 — that's a disappointment to us,” Carter said. “We had hoped to replace the U-2 with the Global Hawk, but the Global Hawk became expensive.  And that's the fate of things that become too expensive in a resource-constrained environment.”

But Northrop brought up a statement from the Pentagon about the Global Hawk Block 30 from last year, which said: “The continuation of the program is essential to the national security.”

"There are no alternatives to the program which will provide acceptable capability to meet the joint military requirement at less cost," the statement read.