Armed and Dangerous — Saudi Arabia buying South African armed drone

Saudi Arabia is buying an armed drone from South Africa after the Obama administration declined to sell the oil-rich kingdom U.S. Predator or Reaper missile-firing unmanned aircraft.

The state-owned South African company Denel Dynamics is working covertly with the Saudis to develop the Seeker 400 drone into an armed combat system for the Saudi military, the Paris-based newsletter Intelligence Online reported March 27.

The Seeker 400 is an advanced version of the company’s Seeker II unarmed surveillance aircraft. Continue reading

Analyst: Drone no longer in Air Force plans to replace U-2 spy plane

YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan — The Air Force wants to save money by scrapping plans to replace the Cold War-era U-2 spy plane with the high-tech Global Hawk reconnaissance drone, a defense analyst said Tuesday.

Loren Thompson wrote in his blog that the Air Force plans to sacrifice the most common variant of the Global Hawk — the Block 30 — as a “bill payer” in its 2013 budget request, retiring those already in use and halting further production by defense giant Northrup Grumman.

In addition, Bloomberg News reported that an unnamed U.S. official said the Pentagon has accepted an Air Force recommendation to reduce its purchases of the Block 30 and shift money to continued operations and maintenance of the high-altitude U-2 manned reconnaissance aircraft, which first entered service in the mid-1950s.

The long-distance, high-altitude Global Hawk has been used extensively in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan to feed intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance information to armed drones such as the Predator and Reaper.

Continue reading article: Analyst: Drone no longer in Air Force plans to replace U-2 spy plane (Stars & Stripes)