The Air Force has not yet settled on how it would dispose of the Global Hawk Block 30 remotely piloted aircraft that it seeks to divest, but likely “would place these assets into storage, usable storage, for future possibilities,” said Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz. The service is proposing terminating the Block 30 configuration, one of several Global Hawk variants it operates, as one force-structure adjustment to conform to DOD’s new strategic guidance. Air Force officials had hoped that the Block 30 aircraft would replace the manned U-2 for high-altitude surveillance. However, it “has proven not to be less expensive to operate than the U-2,” and “in many respects . . . is not as capable from a sensor point of view, as is the U-2,” explained Schwartz Jan. 27 during a press briefing. Schwartz also noted that intelligence-surveillance-reconnaissance is a mission area that the Air Force is maintaining, by and large, and even increasing investment in. But there will be some individual changes, he said. For example, the service will not fix one E-8C JSTARS ground-surveillance aircraft that was damaged “beyond economical repair,” he said. (Schwartz transcript)
A Chinese fighter jet conducted an “unnecessarily aggressive” maneuver in front of a U.S. Air Force RC-135 last week, U.S. Indo-Pacific Command announced May 30, releasing footage of the incident. The intercept, which took place May 26, happened over the South China Sea in international airspace.