More drones, smaller Navy
S.D. County firms plan new unmanned aircraft
By Gary Robbins, UNION-TRIBUNE STAFF WRITER
Tuesday, May 4, 2010 at 12:02 a.m.
Excerpt— Two San Diego County defense contractors are hustling to develop a new generation of comparatively inexpensive, unmanned aerial vehicles in the wake of Defense Secretary Robert Gates’ call for a less costly naval arsenal.
Speaking in Washington, D.C., on Monday, Gates said the military needs to re-examine whether it can afford so many aircraft carriers and submarines when more money is needed to underwrite the Army and Marine Corps.
Those two branches of the military are leading the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, while the Navy is playing a supporting role. The Navy, whose second-largest home base is San Diego, also has long-term plans to slightly downsize its fleet.
Highlight— Live from Poway, California, General Atomics Aeronautical Systems wants a piece of the action ...
Northrop Grumman could face competition from General Atomics Aeronautical Systems of Poway, which says it will develop the Sea Avenger, a derivative of its well-known Predator C drone.
A Predator C costs $12 million to $15 million, making it far less costly than the estimated $41 million F/A-18 Hornet jet fighter that is widely used by the Navy and Marines.
Kimberly Kasitz, a spokeswoman for General Atomics, said the company does not envision hiring more engineering help in Poway because the Sea Avenger is a derivative of an existing aircraft. But that could change if the company is awarded a large production contract.
Warfare continues to become more professional and dehumanized every day.
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