The US Air Force's RQ-4
Global Hawk unmanned aerial reconnaissance system recently passed
the 5,000 combat flight-hours mark while on a mission supporting
the global war on terrorism, according to the aircrafts'
manufacturer, Northrop Grumman.
Deployed almost immediately following the 9/11 attacks, Global
Hawk unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) have been flying nearly
continuous combat missions since 2001. The system has now flown 233
missions, according to Northrop Grumman -- and 157 of those
missions have been flown by a single Global Hawk.
Collectively, the family of Global Hawk aircraft has accumulated
more than 8,000 total flight hours.
"The high-altitude, long-endurance unmanned reconnaissance
system has performed exceptionally well in Operations Enduring
Freedom and Iraqi Freedom, providing image intelligence for
hundreds of time-sensitive targets," said George Guerra, director
of Northrop Grumman's Air Force Global Hawk program. "It not only
flies preprogrammed missions, but can also be re-tasked in just
minutes to locate new targets. Global Hawk proved early-on its
unique value, reliability and flexibility as an intelligence
Global Hawk flies autonomously at an altitude of more than
60,000 feet, above inclement weather and prevailing winds, for more
than 35 hours at a time. During a single mission, it can provide
detailed intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance information
in near-real time over 40,000 square miles -- approximately the
size of Illinois.
Northrop Grumman leads a Global Hawk industry team that
comprises U.S. and international companies. The unmanned system's
primary program elements are provided by team members as
- Integrated sensor suite, Raytheon Space & Airborne Systems,
El Segundo, CA
- Ground station, Raytheon Intelligence & Information
Systems, Falls Church, VA
- Engine, Rolls-Royce Corporation, Indianapolis
- Communication system, L-3 Communications, West, Salt Lake City,
- Wing, Vought Aircraft Industries, Dallas, TX
- V-Tail assembly and other composite structures, Aurora Flight
Sciences, Bridgeport, WV.
Northrop Grumman Integrated Systems is a premier aerospace and
defense systems integration organization. For its government and
civil customers worldwide, Integrated Systems delivers best-value
solutions, products and services that support military and homeland
defense missions in the areas of intelligence, surveillance and
reconnaissance; space access; battle management command and
control; and integrated strike warfare.