U-2 vs. Global Hawk debate is Washington’s job
While lawmakers and military officials in Washington debate the U-2 and Global Hawk’s future, the 9th Reconnaissance Wing at Beale Air Force Base, CA, is focusing on the global intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance mission instead of stressing about which aircraft might eventually be retired, according to the wing commander.
In a Feb. 13 phone interview with Inside the Air Force, Col. Douglas Lee said the tussle over which airframe should be retired and when should concern those inside the beltway, not the airmen conducting the mission.
The wing, headquartered at Beale AFB, has been the subject of several contentious force structure decisions in recent years as the Air Force has asked Congress for authority to retire the U-2, then the Global Hawk, and then the U-2 again. Meanwhile, the wing’s manned MC-12 Liberty tactical airborne surveillance mission is being transferred from Air Combat Command to the Army and a portion of the fleet will eventually go to Air Force Special Operations Command.