NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center
has awarded a five-year contract to Northrop Grumman for
engineering and technical services to support NASA's use of Global
Hawk unmanned aircraft for Earth science research.
The contract supports NASA's planned operation of two Global Hawk
aircraft, their associated ground control station and related
systems. Northrop Grumman's technical assistance will include
analysis, design support for unique systems, simulations, software
development and engineering, and operational and manufacturing
support. The indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity, sole-source
contract has a value of up to $25 million.
Under a Space Act Agreement signed in April 2008, NASA and
Northrop Grumman are bringing to flight two pre-production Global
Hawk air vehicles for NASA research activities. NASA will use the
autonomously operated unmanned aircraft for missions supporting its
Science Mission Directorate and the Earth science community that
require high-altitude, long-endurance, long-distance airborne
The two Global Hawks were transferred to NASA in September 2007
by the U.S. Air Force, which had no further requirements for the
pre-production aircraft. They were among the first seven built
during the Advanced Concept Technology Demonstration program
sponsored by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.
Northrop Grumman will share in the use of the Global Hawk
aircraft to conduct its own flight demonstrations for expanded
markets, missions and airborne capabilities, including integration
of unmanned aircraft systems into the national airspace.
As the world's first fully autonomous, high-altitude,
long-endurance unmanned aerial system, Global Hawk can fly at
altitudes up to 65,000 feet for more than 31 hours at a time.
Global Hawk is supporting the Air Force in the global war on
terrorism, providing persistent intelligence, surveillance and
reconnaissance to warfighters. To date, Global Hawks have flown
more than 24,000 hours.
Global Hawk has many potential applications for the advancement
of science, improvement of hurricane monitoring techniques,
development of disaster support capabilities, and development of
advanced UAS technologies. In October 2007, Air Force Global Hawks
were used to monitor wildfires in Southern California.