Northrop Grumman is preparing the high-altitude RQ-4 Global Hawk unmanned reconnaissance system for review by the US Office of the Secretary of Defense’s Defense Acquisition Board (DAB).

Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems corporate vice-president and president Gary Ervin said Global Hawk was conducting combat and civil missions around the world.

Since 2001, Global Hawk has flown 1,665 combat sorties totalling 33,280 combat flight hours, and collected over 606,000 images on an average of 15 hours on station per sortie.

The USAF has deployed four systems in the Persian Gulf from a fleet of nine systems based at Beale Air Force Base and at US Naval Air Station Patuxent River.

The air force is currently conducting formal test and evaluation of two Global Hawk configurations designed to collect enhanced image and signals intelligence in the ongoing war against terror.

The system will soon be deployed to serve as a communications relay over the battlefield to meet urgent operational need.