5 March 2014, 19:00

US military chooses spy robots over men, boosts drones' budget for 2015

US military chooses spy robots over men, boosts drones' budget for 2015

The US military has increased its expenditures on drone programs for the year 2015. Research and development budgets have also been increased, though other military branches experience a considerable budget cut.

The US military has cut the general defense budget and introduced money-saving plans to stop traditional aircraft programs, while increasing expenditures on the drone fleet.

This means that MQ-9 Reaper program will provide the Air Force with 12 new attack drones. RQ-4 Global Hawk program has the largest funding increase comparing to 2014. At the same time, the MQ-1 Predator, and RQ-7/RQ-11/RQ-2 Shadow, Raven and Blackjack programs have seen a big budget cut, though, in general, the Pentagon requested $59.7 million more for its drone programs for 2015.

Research and development budgets face the same situation. The Global Hawk reconnaissance platform, which has had extra pressure put on it with the planned retirement of the U-2 spy plane, will get twice as much money from the Air Force for R&D ($244.5 million in 2015 from $120 million in 2014) and a similar increase from the Navy (from $375 million to $498 million).

The Navy might boost the Global Hawk platform, because it has troubles flying in extreme weather, while the Navy has to deal with any weather conditions.

By purchasing of new MQ-9 Reapers, which replaced all the F-16s, the Air Force shows that it believes in drone’s future. Nevertheless, manned aircrafts are not to be written off yet, as the Air Force intends to buy 26 of the 34 total F-35 Joint Strike Fighters, obtained by the military next year.

At the same time, an overview states that UAVs have helped to find different solutions across forces that sometimes miss some elements.

"With our leadership's stern warnings about sequestration appearing to fall mostly on deaf ears in the Congress last year, one of secretary Hagel's top priorities is to prepare the department for an era when defense budgets could be significantly lower than expected, wanted or needed," Christine Fox, acting Deputy Defense Secretary, said in a speech today.

Lacking wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the US will have to cut its military budget. Robots surround people in all spheres of life; now, the time for the military branch has come. So, in future, the US will not only increase expenditures on its drone program, but expend drone’s role as well.


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