With several test flights this summer, the U.S. Air Force RQ-4 Global Hawk Wide Area Surveillance Unmanned Aircraft System proved its ability to operate with an expanded variety of intelligence exploitation ground stations and collect mission data in more places.
The RQ-4 Global Hawk UAS is built by Northrop Grumman and is equipped with a Multi-Platform Radar Technology Insertion Program (MP-RTIP) sensor capable of detecting fixed and moving targets.
Test flights out of Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., provided the first demonstration of interoperability with the latest Air Force Distributed Common Ground System upgrades. Another test saw positive results from new MP-RTIP maritime modes, demonstrating the collection capabilities that make the Global Hawk relevant to the Arctic and Mediterranean missions of the NATO Alliance Ground Surveillance (NATO AGS) system.
“These successful test flights illustrate Global Hawk’s adaptability in an ever-changing defense landscape,” said Mick Jaggers, Global Hawk program manager, Northrop Grumman. “The flights demonstrated Northrop Grumman’s latest software development in anticipation of Initial Operational Test & Evaluation in 2015.”
The aircraft interoperability flights of more than 30 hours endurance were some of the longest aircraft missions flown during development tests from Edwards Air Force Base. One mission stretched across three calendar days and collected mission data from the North Pacific coast to the Eastern edge of the Gulf of Mexico via various intelligence centers. Other MP-RTIP test flights in July were used to test new software to enable maritime modes for the MP-RTIP radar for the NATO AGS system.
Global Hawk has flown more than 120,000 flight hours supporting diverse global missions. Carrying a variety of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance sensor and communications gateway payloads, Global Hawk supports antiterrorism, antipiracy, humanitarian assistance, disaster relief, airborne communications relay, information-sharing and the full range of operational combat missions.