The Army’s proposal to spend billions of dollars on 132 unmanned aerial vehicles in “the real world of limited resources and competing military needs” is wasteful, notes Defense Analyst Loren Thompson of the Lexington Institute. The Air Force currently keeps 85 percent of its Predator UAVs in the combat zone; the Army’s plan to tie UAVs to specific units would mean that at during any rotation of forces it would only have around 35 percent of its drones available. “It is hard to believe that the advantages of giving local commanders direct control over these vital intelligence-gathering tools outweigh being able to field an operational fleet that is so much bigger,” Thompson writes. He urges Army leaders to remember that “air space won’t always be so benign, and America’s soldiers are part of a joint team that must use scarce intelligence assets wisely.”
The Pentagon awarded a contract worth over $2 billion for the next batch of F-35 engines to Pratt & Whitney on June 5. The deal for Lot 17 F135 engines, totaling $2.02 billion, is expected to be completed by December 2025.