Northrop Grumman Systems Corp. clinched a $387.5m contract aimed at fortifying the sustainment infrastructure of its Global Hawk (RQ-4) aircraft fleet.

The agreement was awarded by the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio.

According to GlobalData’s intelligence on the Global military unmanned aerial vehicles market, Northrop Grumman is projected to be the second-largest shareholder in the region. With 20% of the North American military UAV market, it is the largest manufacturer of unmanned aerial vehicles

The contract, termed a “definitised contract action,” will primarily focus on providing contractor logistics support services for Global Hawk operations. Spread across locations including Sacheon Air Base and Osan Air Base in the Republic of Korea, Misawa Air Base in Japan, Naval Air Station Sigonella in Italy, and Northrop Grumman’s home base in San Diego, California, the initiative aims to bolster the surveillance fleet’s operational efficiency and readiness.

In 2021, Northrop Grumman received a task order to expand the participation of Global Hawk aircraft in the DoD’s SkyRange programme, which aimed to equip these UAVs with sensors to support hypersonic systems testing. The Block 20 and 30 RQ-4B Global Hawks have been reconfigured into RangeHawks to further enhance their role in supporting hypersonic missile flight tests. 

This contract encompasses foreign military sales agreements with key allies such as the Republic of Korea, Japan’s Ministry of Defense, and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (Nato). 

Northrop Grumman completed the maiden flight of Japan’s second RQ-4B Global Hawk UAV in 2021, expanding Japan’s surveillance capabilities in the Indo-Pacific region. This milestone followed the delivery of the first Global Hawk to Japan under a foreign military sales programme. The Global Hawk’s high-altitude, long-endurance capabilities provide intelligence support. 

The contract is expected to be completed by April 30, 2025.

Northrop Grumman’s Q1 FY24 earnings surged 12% to $944m, credited to a 13% boost in operating income. Diluted earnings per share also increased by 15% to $6.32, with net sales rising 9% to $10.1bn. Operating margin improved to 10.6%, with a 3% rise in free cash flow.