The Senate added a provision to its version of the Fiscal 2016 defense authorization bill instructing the Air Force to study the feasibility of Air National Guard members working with Active Duty airmen to operate and maintain the service’s RQ-4 Global Hawk remotely piloted aircraft. Sen. John Hoeven (R-N.D.) sponsored the amendment, which came to the Senate floor on June 4 for consideration. The Senate adopted the provision that same day. The Global Hawk is “currently operated and maintained only by Active Duty forces, but the Air National Guard could provide a valuable adjunct to the Air Force’s regular personnel,” stated Hoeven in a June 8 release. He noted that North Dakota air guardsmen already perform “exceptionally well” in operating and maintaining MQ-1 Predator RPAs. “They, and units like them, are clearly capable of taking on part of the Global Hawk mission in association with their Active Duty counterparts,” he stated, calling this “a logical move.” The amendment calls on the Air Force to deliver a feasibility report within six months of defense bill becoming law. North Dakota hosts Global Hawks at Grand Forks Air Force Base.
When the Air Force sets a new program baseline for the B-52 re-engining this fall, there will be “some” cost increase, because the project wasn't previously fully funded, and the Air Force has a better handle on actual supplier costs and knowledge from ground testing, program officials said.