Global Hawk

The US Air Force (USAF) has taken delivery of an additional a RQ-4Global Hawk Block 40 unmanned aircraft system (UAS) from Northrop Grumman at Grand Forks Air Force Base in North Dakota, US.

Delivered ahead of schedule, the UAS represents the second of the four Global Hawks the company will supply to USAF as part of the Lot 10 contract.

Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems Global Hawk director Mick Jaggers said the Global Hawk programme performance excellence is a core focus of the company’s efforts.

"Delivering Global Hawk to our Air Force partners early is a good indicator of our solid performance," Jaggers said.

"We look forward to continuing the reduction of Global Hawk’s total mission costs while providing unparalleled capabilities."

A Block 30 Global Hawk UAS was handed over to the USAF four months early in November 2013.

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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.

"The UAS enables commanders to detect moving or stationary targets on the ground, and also provides airborne communications."

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.

Around 42 Global Hawk systems are currently operational worldwide, with 32 alone in inventory of the USAF, which is expected to award the Lot 11contract for additional three drones this summer.

The remaining two aircraft under the Lot10 contract, including a Block 30 and Block 40, are scheduled for delivery in late 2014.

The additional aircraft are claimed to support increased operational flight hours without adding to the fixed support costs, eventually bringing down Global Hawk’s cost per flight hour.

Image: A USAF’s RQ-4 Global Hawk unmanned aircraft in flight. Photo: courtesy of Bobbi Zapka.

Defence Technology