Northrop Grumman has received a task order to expand Global Hawk aircraft’s participation in the US Department of Defense’s (DoD) Skyrange programme.

The programme aims to equip four high-altitude, long-endurance EQ-4 aircraft with sensors to showcase an alternative data collection support system for remote long-range flight test activities.

It is intended to support testing the US hypersonic systems.

Under the contract, the company will begin engineering and planning work to modify four EQ-4 Block 20 Global Hawk aircraft of the US Air Force (USAF).

Northrop Grumman global surveillance vice-president and general manager Jane Bishop said: “The SkyRange programme exploits the intrinsic strengths of Global Hawk – altitude, persistence, payload, and flexibility.

“Grand Sky’s high-tech facility with a modern 35,000ft² hangar provides the ideal location for engineering modifications to Global Hawk in support of the SkyRange programme.”

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Work under the order will support the US DoD Test Resource Management Center’s (TRMC) existing Global Hawk fleet.

According to the company, reconfiguration of the Block 20 aircraft is expected to occur at the company’s Grand Sky facility near Grand Forks, North Dakota, US.

Global Hawk serves as the high-altitude, long-endurance intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) platform for the USAF and global partners.

It is also receiving ground station, cyber resiliency, and mission planning upgrades. This will help the aircraft deliver operational requirements in the future.