Lockheed Martin is going to develop a civilian version of its C-130J military cargo plane. Don’t laugh, the company sold over 100 commercial versions of earlier-generation C-130s. And anything that ups C-130 production is good, as it will up the odds that the N.C. Air National Guard will continue to fly C-130s out of Charlotte Douglas International Airport. The N.C. ANG flies about 20-year old C-130Hs, which will need to be replaced by more modern aircraft at some point in time (think 2020+).
Meanwhile, retirement of the Air Force’s fleets of A-10s, KC-10s, and U-2s is seen as likely in FY2015. Flight Global on the possible U-2 retirement:
[The American Enterprise Institute’ Mackenzie] Eaglen notes that the USAF “completely folded” to political pressure against the service’s desire to retire its Northrop Grumman RQ-4 Global Hawks.
“They are done,” Eaglen says of the USAF’s efforts. “They are not going to fight it anymore. It’s over.”
USAF officials have said Block 30 Global Hawks cost more to develop and sustain than flying U-2s.
Unmanned Block 30s cost $6,710 hourly, while manned U-2’s cost $2,380, according to the air force’s total ownership cost database.
Big drones cost more than manned planes? Interesting…