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IG report, requested in 2011, blames Air Force for drone cost overruns

Airmen from Hawk Aircraft Maintenance Unit welcome RQ-4 Global Hawk aircraft 2019 after its 10,000 flying hour milestone flight at an undisclosed location in Southwest Asia March 8, 2015.

MARIE BROWN/U.S. AIR FORCE

By JOSH SWEIGART | Dayton (Ohio) Daily News (Tribune News Service) | Published: May 19, 2015

It took only 3 1/2 years for the Department of Defense to respond to a Freedom of Information Act request for a report on cost overruns and oversight problems in the Global Hawk drone program, which is managed through Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio.

Among the DOD Inspector General's findings: The program needs more "transparency and accountability."

The Dayton (Ohio) Daily News submitted the FOIA in November 2011 and received the 39-page report this month.

The Inspector General looked into the acquisition of the radar technology used by the Global Hawk Block 40 drone. The IG found that the radar-equipped Global Hawk was three years behind schedule and $76 million over budget, and it laid blame at the feet of Air Force program managers.

"As a result, the (Global Hawk Block 40) program is at risk for continued cost increases, additional security delays, and not meeting the needs of the warfighter," the report says.

The report said the Air Force had a budget of $862 million to buy 10 drones.

The IG recommended the Air Force better document the cost and objectives of the program, and Air Force officials partially agreed. They did not agree, however, with the IG's recommendation that funding be held until improvements are made.

Seven pages of the report showing Air Force officials' specific responses to the IG's findings are blacked out because they contain "certain inter- and intra-agency communications protected by the deliberative process privilege," according to a letter from the Inspector General's FOIA office.

While waiting for the report, the paper's investigative team has continued to cover the Air Force's investment in the Global Hawk, including the Air Force's decision last year to ground the U2 in favor of the drone, and the award of $23.5 million to a Dayton-area company to develop technology to help the drones avoid other objects.

And in 2012, while waiting for the report, the paper reported on how Congress pushed back against the military's efforts to save money in the Global Hawk program and how much drone manufacturer Northrop Grumman had spent on campaign contributions and lobbying.

©2015 the Dayton (Ohio) Daily News. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

 

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