Skip to comments.Air Force's U-2 aircraft get new lease on life
Posted on 02/24/2012 9:22:11 PM PST by U-238
The draft of the federal budget for 2013 pulls back the throttle on the rival Global Hawk program. An Air Force general says the U-2, a design that dates to the 1950s, is "the stronger system."
Score one for old-school aircraft against the upstart drones.
Perhaps it's just a brief respite from the seemingly inevitable winds of change propelling unmanned aircraft ever higher in the Pentagon's airpower depth charts, but the venerable U-2 spy plane has won a key vote of confidence over the unmanned RQ-4 Global Hawk. That victory came not in a head-to-head aerial dogfight, but in a more bureaucratic conveyance: the draft of the federal budget for the U.S. government's fiscal 2013. "The Administration proposes to end production of the Global Hawk unmanned aerial reconnaissance vehicle," says the budget proposal (PDF), released last week. "High altitude reconnaissance operations will continue with the manned U-2 aircraft which can perform the same missions as the Global Hawk, but at a lower cost."
(Excerpt) Read more at news.cnet.com ...
It’s really hard for me to imagine the U2 being a better asset than the Global Hawk. (Maybe the U2 flies higher and has a larger field of view?)
It comes to cost and other measures the USAF to compare the two.
No doubt the consequence of the McConnell/Boehner super committee deal.
...Kelly Johnson was to aircraft what John Browning was to firearms.
Kelly Johnson is a genius.Johnson initiated construction of the airbase at Groom Lake, Nevada
Johnson’s famed “down-to-brass-tacks” management style was summed up by his motto, “Be quick, be quiet, and be on time.” He ran Skunk Works by Kelly’s 14 Rules
1.The Skunk Works manager must be delegated practically complete control of his program in all aspects. He should report to a division president or higher.
2.Strong but small project offices must be provided both by the military and industry.
3.The number of people having any connection with the project must be restricted in an almost vicious manner. Use a small number of good people (10% to 25% compared to the so-called normal systems).
4.A very simple drawing and drawing release system with great flexibility for making changes must be provided.
5.There must be a minimum number of reports required, but important work must be recorded thoroughly.
6.There must be a monthly cost review covering not only what has been spent and committed but also projected costs to the conclusion of the program. Don’t have the books 90 days late, and don’t surprise the customer with sudden overruns.
7.The contractor must be delegated and must assume more than normal responsibility to get good vendor bids for subcontract on the project. Commercial bid procedures are very often better than military ones.
8.The inspection system as currently used by the Skunk Works, which has been approved by both the Air Force and Navy, meets the intent of existing military requirements and should be used on new projects. Push more basic inspection responsibility back to subcontractors and vendors. Don’t duplicate so much inspection.
9.The contractor must be delegated the authority to test his final product in flight. He can and must test it in the initial stages. If he doesn’t, he rapidly loses his competency to design other vehicles.
10.The specifications applying to the hardware must be agreed to well in advance of contracting. The Skunk Works practice of having a specification section stating clearly which important military specification items will not knowingly be complied with and reasons therefore is highly recommended.
11.Funding a program must be timely so that the contractor doesn’t have to keep running to the bank to support government projects.
12.There must be mutual trust between the military project organization and the contractor with very close cooperation and liaison on a day-to-day basis. This cuts down misunderstanding and correspondence to an absolute minimum.
13.Access by outsiders to the project and its personnel must be strictly controlled by appropriate security measures.
14.Because only a few people will be used in engineering and most other areas, ways must be provided to reward good performance by pay not based on the number of personnel supervised.
Its really hard for me to imagine the U2 being a better asset than the Global Hawk. (Maybe the U2 flies higher and has a larger field of view?)
The Global Hawk costs more to purchase and more to operate.
All this demonstrates is how screwed up our current military procurement and program management/politics is.
On paper this is an easy win - and with 24 hour flight duration - automatic.
What a bunch of clowns.
As a pilot and gun enthusiast I must agree. But please do not forget John C Garand, the genius behind the M1-Garand.
My dad designed the hanger for the U-2.
Actually Kelly had a 15th unwritten rule used at the Skunk Works:
"Starve before doing business with the damned Navy. They don't know what the hell they want"
In other news, obama is proposing a $10,000 Federal tax credit for the purchase of a Conestoga wagon.
It’s the Air Force. Some how, some way they are going to come up with a decision that favors pilots.
The article talks of sensor capabilities, but the title implies the battle in between the delivery platforms.
Burt Rutan's Proteus:
"It is designed to carry payloads in the 2000-pound class to altitudes above 60,000 feet and remain on station up to 14 hours. Heavier payloads can be carried for shorter missions. It is intended for piloted as well as for UAV missions. Potential missions for Proteus include telecommunications, reconnaissance, atmospheric research, commercial imaging, and space launch."
Throw a few million at Scaled Composites and they will have you an upgraded version ready in 6 months and able to carry 4,000 lbs of payload.
[HELP! Anyone know the HTML to reduce the size of these photos?]
The C-130 is still in production, first flown in 1954.
We need the SR-71 Blackbird back.