Winslow Wheeler, an acquisitions watchdog at the Washington, D.C., thinktank Center for Defense Information, said the costly Block 30s sitting on the sidelines are a waste of billions that could've been easily avoided.
"They could've had a side-by-side comparison years ago to see if [the Global Hawk] could compete with the U-2," Wheeler told ABC News today. "But they went through the typical technological assumption that this is a step forward, that this will be better and cheaper... [except] it's both more expensive and not as good."
Representatives for Northrop Grumman declined to comment to ABC News for this report, except to point to a statement posted on the company's website that notes the company's "disappointment" in the Air Force's decision to drop the Block 30s.
"Global Hawk is the modern solution to providing surveillance. It provides long duration persistent surveillance, and collects information using multiple sensors on the platform," the statement says. "In contrast, the aging U-2 program, first introduced in the 1950s, places pilots in danger, has limited flight duration, and provides limited sensor capacity. Extending the U-2's service life also represents additional investment requirements for that program."
Wheeler said that Northrop Grumman is likely to push hard to get the Block 30s back in the military's arsenal, something Schwartz left plenty of room for in his testimony.
"We will put the platforms into recoverable storage," he said. "We're not talking about breaking the birds up. We want to be able to have access to them and as circumstances change, perhaps there will be a time when they come out of storage."
In the meantime, Schwartz said he was confident the military will continue to use the other variations of the Global Hawk to the best of their ability.
"We're not giving up on the Global Hawk by any means," he said.