Here’s an Idea — Stick Missiles on America’s Giant Spy Drone
Pentagon scientists want to arm Global Hawk robot spy plane
It’s a little-known fact that when Northrop Grumman designed the Global Hawk spy drone back in the 1990s, the company added underwing hardpoints for weapons — just in case the U.S. Air Force decided, down the road, that it wanted to arm the currently-weaponless 737-size surveillance robot.
Lo and behold, it’s 20 years later and the Defense Science Board is recommending just that. Air Force Magazine‘s Daily Report explains:
The Air Force Scientific Advisory Board found that MQ-9 Reapers and RQ-4 Global Hawks can be modified for use in contested environments, and most of the modifications that would be necessary to update the aircraft already exist, board chairman Werner Dahm said Monday.
While MQ-1 Predators would likely be useful only to draw fire in a contested environment, Reapers and Global Hawks could be altered for different environments and missions by improving situational awareness, becoming more automated, and by carrying and using weapons.
Presumably the science board is talking about giving Global Hawks air-to-air missiles so they can defend themselves. But don’t forget the last time the Pentagon tried to make a drone into a dogfighter, back in 2002. Spoiler — an Iraq MiG-25 turned the missile-armed Predator into flaming wreckage.