End of the Road for U-2 and A-10?

** Lockheed U-2**

Deep cuts in military spending ordered by the Obama Administration would reduce American military forces to their lowest level since before World War II and signal the end of the line for two iconic military aircraft, the high-flying Lockheed U-2 spyplane and tank-busting A-10 Warthog.

Under the proposed military budget, the entire A-10 fleet would be eliminated and replaced by the Lockheed Martin F-35A and other aircraft. The U-2 spyplane, the stalwart of Cold War reconnaissance, would be retired in favor of drones like the unmanned Global Hawk. The Defense Department says the high costs of maintaining these aging aircraft are behind the decision.

The Pentagon also says the Army would retire its Bell Kiowa and Jet Ranger training helicopters, and the National Guard would trade the Army its Apache helicopters for Black Hawks, which are better suited for peacetime activities and disaster response.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel also announced a two-year delay for the F-35C, the carrier variant of the fifth-generation fighter. While the proposed cuts drew sharp criticism from lawmakers who worry about the effects of a drawdown of U.S. military might, Hagel said they reflect the reality of the country’s current defense needs as the war in Afghanistan draws to a close.

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