The US Air Force (USAF) has taken delivery of two additional RQ-4 Global Hawk unmanned aircraft system (UAS) from Northrop Grumman, ahead of the original schedule.
The latest systems bring the total number of Global Hawks delivered to date by Northrop Grumman to the air force to 37.
The company has delivered a total of three UAS, while also completing installation of five previously delivered aircraft with additional sensors, which will enable the systems to gather a variety of intelligence data during a single mission.
Northrop Grumman Global Hawk unmanned aircraft systems vice president George Guerra said: "Global Hawk’s ability to fly more than 30 hours at high altitudes while gathering multiple types of intelligence data makes it extremely valuable to field commanders who need near real-time information.
"These new aircraft add to that capability."
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 remotely piloted system features an air vehicle segment comprising air vehicles, avionics and data links, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance sensor payloads for data collection and a synthetic aperture radar for detection of moving or stationary targets on the ground.
Additional components include a ground segment made of a Raytheon-built launch and recovery element and a mission control element with embedded ground communications equipment, support element and trained personnel.
Global Hawk 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.
Image: A US Air Force Global Hawk unmanned aircraft system during its flight. Photo: file image.