Northrop defends Global Hawk after Pentagon criticism

06/24/2010 | FlightGlobal.com (U.K.)

The Air Force's top acquisition officer says the Global Hawk unmanned vehicle from Northrop Grumman Corp. is failing to live up to expectations. "I am not happy with the pace of that program, and we are not happy with the cost of the air vehicle," David Van Buren, assistant secretary for acquisition, told reporters. But Northrop quickly responded that despite some cost spikes, "overall cost of the air vehicle and the sensors is trending down, as the company predicted and expected." Pointing out that the Global Hawk is already "performing 24 hours a day, seven days a week," Gary Ervin, corporate vice president, said the plane "outperforms any other high-altitude intelligence, reconnaissance and intelligence system in theater today. It's in a class of its own."

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