The U.S. Air Force has awarded Northrop Grumman Corp. a $114 million advance procurement contract in preparation to build three more RQ-4 Global Hawk unmanned aircraft systems and associated sensors. The intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) aircraft allows military commanders to receive high-resolution imagery, survey vast geographic regions and pinpoint targets on the ground.
This contract provides for advance procurement of three Block 30 aircraft, including three enhanced integrated sensor suites, three airborne signals intelligence payload (ASIP) and two ASIP retrofit kits to be installed on previously purchased aircraft. The work under this contract is expected to be completed in 2015.
The Global Hawk can remain airborne for more than 30 hours at high altitudes while gathering multiple types of intelligence data. Combined with Global Hawk's ability to fly for long periods at altitudes up to 60,000 feet, the aircraft's 12,300 nautical mile range makes the system ideally suited to take on many different ISR missions.
The system has logged more than 100,000 flight hours and has been used over battlefields in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya. The system has also supported ISR efforts following the devastating earthquakes that struck Haiti and Japan.
In addition, NASA has been using Global Hawks for scientific and environmental research, recently flying over two hurricanes in September as part of a broader project studying how tropical storms develop over the Atlantic Ocean.