Northrop Grumman has demonstrated the US Air Force (USAF) RQ-4 Global Hawk unmanned aircraft system’s (UAS) compatibility with different satellite communications (SATCOM) architectures during a series of ground and air trials at Beale Air Force Base, California, US.
Conducted at the request of the Air Force Air Combat Command, the demonstration highlighted a unique split link capability for the Global Hawk that enables it to send mission data through a satellite link that is independent of the link used for command and control (C2), without any modifications to hardware, software or payload.
Northrop Grumman HALE Enterprise director and chief architect Alfredo Ramirez said the demonstration illustrated Global Hawk’s unique versatility.
"We’re ecstatic with Global Hawk’s ability to provide intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance products to operational end-users via multiple paths," Ramirez said.
Powered by an Allison Rolls-Royce AE3007H turbofan engine, the RQ-4 Global Hawk is a high-altitude, long-endurance (HALE) UAS designed to provide field commanders with high-resolution, near real-time imagery of large geographic areas in support of military, humanitarian and environmental missions.
Capable of carrying a range of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) sensor payloads, the UAS enables commanders to detect moving or stationary targets on the ground, and also provides airborne communications and information sharing capabilities to military units in harsh environments.
The remotely piloted UAV has been used by USAF during wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya, in addition to supporting intelligence gathering and reconnaissance efforts after the earthquakes in Haiti and Japan.
Global Hawk is also being used by NASA for scientific and environmental research projects.
Image: A USAF RQ-4 Global Hawk unmanned aircraft in flight. Photo: USAF photo by Bobbi Zapka.