FALLS CHURCH, Va., Jan. 27 (UPI) -- Northrop Grumman expressed disappointment over the U.S. Defense Department's decision to scrub the Global Hawk Block 30 UAV program.
"The Pentagon announced … that it is planning to cancel the Global Hawk Block 30 program and plans to perform this mission with the U-2 aircraft," the company said in a news release.
"Northrop Grumman is disappointed with the Pentagon's decision and plans to work with the Pentagon to assess alternatives to program termination."
Northrop said Global Hawk has demonstrated its utility in U.S. military operations in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya and in humanitarian operations in Japan and Haiti.
It pointed out that recently the Pentagon claimed it was "essential to national security" to continue the Global Hawk Block 30 program.
The high-altitude Global Hawk is a long-range unmanned aerial vehicle used by the U.S. Air Force for surveillance, intelligence and reconnaissance missions. The UAVs operate from the continental United States and have been forward deployed to Guam, in the Pacific.
The Pentagon, facing deep budget cuts, plans to use the venerable U-2 aircraft for the missions performed by the Global Hawk. The Northrop Grumman UAV, which reportedly costs about $35 million per unit, had been seen as the replacement for the U-2.