GAO Eyes Rise in Global Hawk Cost

A new report from the Government Accountability Office assessing 52 major weapon systems calls into question the Air Force’s rush to procure more of the highly acclaimed RQ-4 Global Hawk unmanned aerial vehicles. GAO claims program restructuring, overlapping development, and production schedules for both the RQ-4A and B models and accelerated planned deliveries are pushing program costs up much faster than anticipated. GAO also casts a most wary eye on procurement of the less technologically mature B model. The Air Force aided the GAO in its quest for information—no hidden agenda here—and commented that the service keeps DOD abreast of the “risks and benefits” in the program. USAF officials also noted that software, not hardware, is the “critical element” for the newer B model, but add that the revolutionary radar and signals sensors progress only through test and decision points. (You can read the entire 148-page report here.)