For John, BLUF: Trade offs must be made. Nothing to see here; just move along.
Once again the U-2, the Dragon Lady, is going away. The replacement is the RQ-4 Global Hawk. This from an article in Defense News. An interesting lede:
While the plan to keep new, unmanned Global Hawks over the aging manned U-2 has support among top Defense Department officials, the top combat general in the US Air Force says it is not the best military solution.One of the losses in capability is that the RQ-4 can not cruise as high as the U-2. This impacts where the aircraft can be route to avoid enemy defenses. Flying higher can shrink the reach of hostile Surface-to-Air Missiles.
Tightening Defense Budgets mean reduced operational capability. The question for the Public and for the Congress is if the reduction in capability is acceptable, when considered in light of the long term impact of defense spending on the US Economy.
Regards — Cliff