Northrop Grumman has been awarded a contract to deliver RQ-4 Global Hawk unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) to the Republic of Korea’s Air Force (ROKAF).
Awarded by the US Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, the $657.4m contract requires Northrop to supply four enhanced integrated sensor suite-equipped RQ-4B Block 30 Global Hawk air vehicles with two spare engines and applicable ground control environment elements.
Northrop will also supply supporting equipment to allow ROKAF operators to control and maintain the system.
Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems International vice-president Mary Petryszyn said: "It’s clear that US allies have seen the critical role Global Hawk plays for the US Air Force around the world.
"The system will be a vital link in the Republic of Korea’s increasing leadership role in defending the peninsula.
"This is a significant achievement for Northrop Grumman because it represents the first time a Global Hawk has been sold to an allied nation in the Asia-Pacific region under the Foreign Military Sales process."
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Powered by an Allison Rolls-Royce AE3007H turbofan engine, the RQ-4 Global Hawk is a high-altitude, long-endurance UAS designed to provide field commanders with high-resolution, near real-time imagery of large geographic areas to support military, humanitarian and environmental missions.
The drone enables commanders to detect moving or stationary targets on the ground, while providing airborne communications and information sharing capabilities to military units in harsh environments.
The remotely piloted UAV has been used by the US Air Force during wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya, in addition to supporting intelligence gathering and reconnaissance efforts following earthquakes in Haiti and Japan.
Contractural work will be performed at the company’s facility in California, US, with deliveries scheduled to start in 2018.
Image: An RQ-4 Global Hawk UAS at Beale Air Force Base, California, US. Photo: courtesy of Stacey Knott.