Saturday, January 28, 2012

U-2 to keep flying

WASHINGTON, Jan. 28 (UPI) -- The spy plane U-2, once slated to be replaced in 2015, may continue flying into the next decade under a U.S. Defense Department proposal, officials say.

The fleet of 33 U-2s was supposed to be replaced with RQ-4 Global Hawks, high-tech drones used by the Air Force since 2001.

But the U.S. Defense Department this week proposed delaying the retirement of the U-2s as a result of Pentagon spending cutbacks, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The Global Hawk, with a price tag of $176 million apiece, had "priced itself out of the niche, in terms of taking pictures in the air," Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said at a news conference Thursday. "That's a disappointment for us, but that's the fate of things that become too expensive in a resource-constrained environment.

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