Northrop Grumman RQ-4 Global Hawk

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
RQ-4/MQ-4 Global Hawk
Global Hawk 1.jpg
An RQ-4 Global Hawk flying in 2007
Role Surveillance UAV
National origin United States
Manufacturer Northrop Grumman
First flight 28 February 1998
Status In service
Primary users United States Air Force
United States Navy
NASA
Number built 42 RQ-4Bs as of FY2013[1]
Program cost US$10 billion (USAF cost through FY2014)[1]
Unit cost
US$131.4M (FY13)[1]
US$222.7M (with R&D)[1]
Variants Scaled Composites Model 396
Developed into Northrop Grumman MQ-4C Triton

The Northrop Grumman RQ-4 Global Hawk is an unmanned (UAV) surveillance aircraft. It was initially designed by Ryan Aeronautical (now part of Northrop Grumman), and known as Tier II+ during development. In role and operational design, the Global Hawk is similar to the Lockheed U-2. The RQ-4 provides a broad overview and systematic surveillance using high-resolution synthetic aperture radar (SAR) and long-range electro-optical/infrared (EO/IR) sensors with long loiter times over target areas. It can survey as much as 40,000 square miles (100,000 km2) of terrain a day.

The Global Hawk is operated by the United States Air Force and U.S. Navy. It is used as a high-altitude platform covering the spectrum of intelligence collection capability to support forces in worldwide military operations. According to the United States Air Force, the superior surveillance capabilities of the aircraft allow more precise weapons targeting and better protection of friendly forces. Cost overruns led to the original plan to acquire 63 aircraft being cut to 45, and to a 2013 proposal to mothball the 21 Block 30 signal-intelligence variants.[1] Each aircraft was to cost US$60.9 million in 2001,[2] but this had risen to $222.7 million per aircraft (including development costs) by 2013.[1] The U.S. Navy has developed the Global Hawk into the MQ-4C Triton maritime surveillance platform.

Development[edit]

Origins[edit]

The Global Hawk took its first flight on 28 February 1998.[3] The first seven aircraft were built under the Advanced Concept Technology Demonstration (ACTD) program, sponsored by DARPA,[4] in order to evaluate the design and demonstrate its capabilities. Demand for the RQ-4's abilities was high in the Middle East; thus, the prototype aircraft were actively operated by the U.S. Air Force in the War in Afghanistan. In an unusual move, the aircraft entered initial low-rate production while still in engineering and manufacturing development. Nine production Block 10 aircraft, sometimes referred to as RQ-4A, were produced; of these, two were sold to the US Navy and an additional two were deployed to Iraq to support operations there. The final Block 10 aircraft was delivered on 26 June 2006.[5]

In order to increase the aircraft's capabilities, the airframe was redesigned, with the nose section and wings being stretched. The modified aircraft, designated RQ-4B Block 20,[6] allow it to carry up to 3,000 lb of internal payload. These changes were introduced with the first Block 20 aircraft, the 17th Global Hawk produced, which was rolled out in a ceremony on 25 August 2006.[7] First flight of the Block 20 from the USAF Plant 42 in Palmdale, California to Edwards Air Force Base took place on 1 March 2007. Developmental testing of Block 20 took place in 2008.[8]

United States Navy version[edit]

A RQ-4A in U.S. Navy markings

The United States Navy took delivery of two of the Block 10 aircraft to evaluate their maritime surveillance capabilities, designated N-1 (BuNo 166509) and N-2 (BuNo 166510).[9] The initial navalised example was tested at Edwards Air Force Base briefly, before moving to NAS Patuxent River in March 2006 for the Global Hawk Maritime Demonstration (GHMD) program, operated by Navy squadron VX-20.[10][11] In July 2006, the GHMD aircraft flew in the Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) exercise for the first time; although it was in the vicinity of Hawaii, the aircraft was operated from Edwards, requiring flights of approximately 2,500 mi (4,000 km) each way to the area. Four flights were performed, resulting in over 24 hours of persistent maritime surveillance coordinated with Abraham Lincoln and Bonhomme Richard. For the GHMD program, the Global Hawk was tasked with maintaining maritime situational awareness, contact tracking, and imagery support of exercise operations. Images were transmitted to NAS Patuxent River for processing and then forwarded to the fleet off Hawaii.[12]

Northrop Grumman entered a RQ-4B variant in the US Navy's Broad Area Maritime Surveillance (BAMS) UAV competition. On 22 April 2008, it was announced that Northrop Grumman's RQ-4N had won and that the Navy had awarded a US$1.16 billion contract.[13] In September 2010, the RQ-4N was officially designated the MQ-4C.[14] The Navy MQ-4C differs from the Air Force RQ-4 mainly in its wing. While the Global Hawk remains at high altitude to conduct surveillance, the Triton climbs to 50,000 ft to see a wide area and can drop to 10,000 ft to get further identification of a target. The Triton's wings are specially designed to take the stresses of rapidly decreasing altitude. Though similar in appearance to the Global Hawk's wings, the Triton's internal wing structure is much stronger and has additional features including anti-icing capabilities and impact and lightning strike protection.[15]

Cost increases and procurement[edit]

Development cost overruns placed the Global Hawk at risk of cancellation. In mid-2006, per-unit costs were 25% over baseline estimates, caused by both the need to correct design deficiencies as well as to increase its capabilities. This caused concern over a possible congressional termination of the program if its national security benefits could not be justified.[16][17] However, in June 2006, the program was restructured. Completion of an operational assessment report by the USAF was delayed from August 2005-November 2007 due to manufacturing and development delays. The operational assessment report was released in March 2007 and production of the 54 air vehicles planned has been extended by two years to 2015.[18]

A maintenance crew preparing a Global Hawk at Beale Air Force Base

In February 2011, the USAF reduced its planned purchase of RQ-4 Block 40 aircraft from 22 to 11 in order to cut costs.[19] In June 2011, the U.S. Defense Department's Director, Operational Test and Evaluation (DOT&E) found the RQ-4B "not operationally effective" due to reliability issues.[20] In June 2011, the Global Hawk was certified by the Secretary of Defense as critical to national security following a breach of the Nunn-McCurdy Amendment; the Secretary stated: "The Global Hawk is essential to national security; there are no alternatives to Global Hawk which provide acceptable capability at less cost; Global Hawk costs $220M less per year than the U-2 to operate on a comparable mission; the U-2 cannot simultaneously carry the same sensors as the Global Hawk; and if funding must be reduced, Global Hawk has a higher priority over other programs."[21]

On 26 January 2012, the Pentagon announced plans to end Global Hawk Block 30 procurement as the type was found to be more expensive to operate and with less capable sensors than the existing U-2.[22][23] Plans to increase procurement of the Block 40 variant were also announced.[24][25] The Air Force's fiscal year 2013 budget request said it had resolved to divest itself of the Block 30 variant, however, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013 mandated operations of the Block 30 fleet through the end of 2014.[26] The USAF plans to procure 45 RQ-4B Global Hawks as of 2013.[1] Just before his release from ACC, Hostage said of the U-2's replacement by the drone that "The combatant commanders are going to suffer for eight years and the best they’re going to get is 90 percent".[27]

From 2010-2013, costs of flying the RQ-4 fell by more than 50%. In 2010, the cost per flight hour was $40,600, with contractor logistic support making up $25,000 per flight hour of this figure. By mid-2013, cost per flight hour dropped to $18,900, contractor logistic support having dropped to $11,000 per flight hour. This was in part due to higher usage, spreading logistics and support costs over a higher number of flight hours.[28]

EuroHawk[edit]

EuroHawk at the ILA 2012

The German Air Force (Luftwaffe) ordered a variant of the RQ-4B, to be equipped with a customized sensor suite, designated EuroHawk. The aircraft was based on the RQ-4B Block 20/30/40 and was to be equipped with an EADS-built SIGINT package; it was intended to fulfill Germany's requirement to replace their aging Dassault-Breguet Atlantique electronic surveillance aircraft of the Marineflieger (German Naval Air Arm). The EADS sensor package is composed of six wing-mounted pods;[29] reportedly these sensor pods could potentially be used on other platforms, including manned aircraft.[30]

The EuroHawk was officially rolled out on 8 October 2009 and its first flight took place on 29 June 2010.[31] It underwent several months of flight testing at Edwards Air Force Base.[32] On 21 July 2011, the first EuroHawk arrived in Manching, Germany; after which it was scheduled to receive its SIGINT sensor package and undergo further testing and pilot training until the first quarter of 2012. The Luftwaffe planned to station the type with Reconnaissance Wing 51.[33] In 2011 the German ministry of defence was aware of difficulties with the certification for use within the European airspace.[34] During flight trials, problems with the EuroHawk's flight control system were found; the German certification process was also complicated by Northrop Grumman refusing to share technical data on the aircraft with which to perform evaluations.[30]

On 13 May 2013, German media reported that the EuroHawk would not be certifiable under ICAO rules without an anti-collision system; thus preventing any operations within European airspace or the airspace of any ICAO member.[35][36] The additional cost of certification was reported to be more than €600 million (US$780 million).[37] On 15 May 2013, the German government announced the immediate termination of the program, attributing the cancellation to the certification issue.[38] Reportedly, the additional cost to develop the EuroHawk to the standards needed for certification may not have guaranteed final approval for certification.[39] German defense minister Thomas de Maizière stated EuroHawk was "very important" for Germany in 2012,[34] then referred to the project as being "a horror without end" in his 2013 statement to the Bundestag. The total cost of the project before it was canceled was €562 million.[40][41] Northrop Grumman and EADS have described reports of flight control problems and high costs for certification as "inaccurate"; they have stated their intention to provide an affordable plan to complete the first EuroHawk's flight testing and produce the remaining four aircraft.[42][43]

On 8 August 2013, the EuroHawk set an endurance record by flying continuously in European airspace for 25.3 hours, reaching an altitude of 58,600 feet (17,900 m). It was the longest flight by an unrefueled UAS weighing more than 30,000 lb (14,000 kg) in European skies.[44] On 5 October 2014, German Minister of Defence Ursula von der Leyen was reportedly considering reactivating the EuroHawk program to test its reconnaissance abilities over a long period at altitudes of up to 20,000 m (66,000 ft). Attempting to test the recon system on Airbus aircraft and an Israeli drone as alternate platforms had proven unsuccessful. The Bundeswehr would use it to detect, decrypt, and potentially interfere with enemy communications signals. If tests prove successful, a carrier would be purchased, likely "similar" to the U.S. Global Hawk.[45] Germany is considering installing the EuroHawk's SIGINT payloads onto the U.S. Navy MQ-4C Triton Global Hawk derivative, as the electronic and communications intelligence sensors would be more difficult to place on other substitute aircraft. It already has icing and lightning-strike protection, and was built with certification over civilian airspace in mind, meeting the STANAG 4671 requirements that had ended the EuroHawk program.[46]

Further development[edit]

In January 2014, President Obama signed a budget that included $10 million to study how the U-2's superior sensors could be adapted to the RQ-4.[47] On 29 April 2015, Janes reported that Northrup Grumman had installed U-2 sensors on the RQ-4 using a Universal Payload Adaptor (UPA) to hold a payload amount of 3,000-4,000 lb (1360–1814 kg). The sensors consist of the Optical Bar Camera and Senior Year Electro-Optical Reconnaissance System-2B/C. Successful testing of the system suggests that all RQ-4s could be similarly retrofitted.[48]

Design[edit]

Overview[edit]

The Global Hawk UAV system comprises the RQ-4 air vehicle, which is outfitted with various equipment such as sensor packages and communication systems; and a ground element consisting of a Launch and Recovery Element (LRE), and a Mission Control Element (MCE) with ground communications equipment.[49] Each RQ-4 air vehicle is powered by an Allison Rolls-Royce AE3007H turbofan engine with 7,050 lbf (31.4 kN) thrust, and carries a payload of 2,000 pounds (910 kilograms). The fuselage comprises an aluminum, semi-monocoque construction with V-tail; the wings are made of composite materials.[specify][50]

There have been several iterations of the Global Hawk with different features and capabilities. The first version to be used operationally was the RQ-4A Block 10, which performed imagery intelligence (IMINT) with a 2,000 lb (910 kg) payload of a synthetic aperture radar (SAR) with electro-optical (EO) and infrared (IR) sensors; seven A-model Block 10s were delivered and all were retired by 2011. The RQ-4B Block 20 was the first of the B-model Global Hawks, which has a greater 3,000 lb (1,400 kg) payload and employs upgraded SAR and EO/IR sensors; four Block 20s were converted into communications relays with the Battlefield Airborne Communications Node (BACN) payload. The RQ-4B Block 30 is capable of multi-intelligence (multi-INT) collecting with SAR and EO/IR sensors along with the Airborne Signals Intelligence Payload (ASIP), a wide-spectrum signals intelligence (SIGINT) sensor. The RQ-4B Block 40 is equipped with the multi-platform radar technology insertion program (MP-RTIP) Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar, which provides SAR and moving target indication (MTI) data for wide-area surveillance of stationary and moving targets.[6][51]

System and ground facilities[edit]

Raytheon's Integrated Sensor Suite (ISS) consists of a synthetic aperture radar (SAR), electro-optical (EO), and thermographic camera (IR) sensors. Either the EO or the IR sensors can operate simultaneously with the SAR. Each sensor provides wide area search imagery and a high-resolution spot mode. The SAR has a ground moving target indicator (GMTI) mode, which can provide a text message providing the moving target's position and velocity. Both SAR and EO/IR imagery are transmitted from the aircraft to the MCE as individual frames, and reassembled during ground processing. An onboard inertial navigation system, supplemented by Global Positioning System updates, comprises the navigational suite. Global Hawk is intended to operate autonomously and "untethered" using a satellite data link (either Ku or Ultra high frequency) for sending data from the aircraft to the MCE. The common data link can also be used for direct down link of imagery when the UAV is within line-of-sight of compatible ground stations.

The ground segment consists of a Mission Control Element (MCE) and Launch and Recovery Element (LRE), provided by Raytheon. The MCE is used for mission planning, command and control, and image processing and dissemination; an LRE for controlling launch and recovery; and associated ground support equipment. (The LRE provides precision Differential GPS corrections for navigational accuracy during takeoff and landings, while precision coded GPS supplemented with an inertial navigation system is used during mission execution.) By having separable elements in the ground segment, the MCE and the LRE can operate in geographically separate locations, and the MCE can be deployed with the supported command's primary exploitation site. Both ground segments are contained in military shelters with external antennas for line-of-sight and satellite communications with the air vehicles.

Sensor packages[edit]

Photograph taken by US Navy Global Hawk with an aerial view of wildfires in Northern California, 2008

Radar[edit]

The Global Hawk carries the Hughes Integrated Surveillance & Reconnaissance (HISAR) sensor system.[52] HISAR is a lower-cost derivative of the ASARS-2 package that Hughes developed for the Lockheed U-2. It is also fitted in the US Army's RC-7B Airborne Reconnaissance Low Multifunction (ARLM) manned aircraft, and is being sold on the international market. HISAR integrates a SAR-MTI system, along with an optical and an thermography imager. All three sensors are controlled and their outputs filtered by a common processor and transmitted in real time at up to 50 Mbit/s to a ground station. The SAR-MTI system operates in the X band in various operational modes; such as the wide-area MTI mode with a radius of 62 mi (100 km), combined SAR-MTI strip mode provides 20 ft (6.1 m) resolution over 23 mi (37 km) wide sections, and a SAR spot mode providing 6 ft (1.8 m) resolution over 3.8 square miles (9.8 square kilometers).

In July 2006, the US Air Force began testing the Global Hawk Block 30 upgrades in the Benefield Anechoic Facility at Edwards AFB; such as the Advanced Signals Intelligence Payload, an extremely sensitive SIGINT processor.[53] In 2006, a specialist active electronically scanned array radar system, the Multi-Platform Radar Technology Insertion Program, or MP-RTIP, began testing on the Scaled Composites Proteus; one modified Global Hawk shall carry the radar following validation. In 2010, Northrop spoke on the sensor capabilities of the new Block 40 aircraft, including MP-RTIP radar, emphasising surveillance over reconnaissance.[54]

On 14 April 2014, a Block 40 Global Hawk completed the first Maritime Modes program risk reduction flight to enhance the Air Force's maritime surveillance capabilities. Maritime Modes is made up of a Maritime Moving Target Indicator and a Maritime Inverse Synthetic Aperture Radar (MISAR) that function together to provide ISR information on vessels traveling on the water's surface. During the 11.5 hour flight off of the California coast, the MISAR collected data on over 100 items of interest. Maritime Modes is planned to be integrated with the RQ-4B's existing MP-RTIP radar to detect and produce synthetic aperture radar imagery of ground vehicles.[55]

Visible light/infrared[edit]

The visible and infrared imagers share the same gimballed sensor package, and use common optics, providing a telescopic close-up capability. It can be optionally fitted with an auxiliary Signals intelligence package. To improve survivability, the Global Hawk is fitted with a Raytheon developed AN/ALR-89 self-protection suite consisting of the AN/AVR-3 Laser warning receiver, AN/APR-49 Radar warning receiver and a jamming system. An ALE-50 towed decoy also aids in the Global Hawk's deception of enemy air defenses.[53][56]

Operational history[edit]

U.S. Air Force[edit]

Global Hawk ATCD prototypes were used in the War in Afghanistan and in the Iraq War. Since April 2010, they fly the Northern Route, from Beale AFB over Canada to South-East Asia and back, reducing flight time and improving maintenance. While their data-collection capabilities have been praised, the program lost three prototype aircraft to accidents,[57][58][59] more than one quarter of the aircraft used in the wars. The crashes were reported to be due to "technical failures or poor maintenance", with a failure rate per hour flown over 100 times higher than the F-16 fighter. Northrop Grumman stated that it was unfair to compare the failure rates of a mature design to that of a prototype aircraft. In June 2012, a media report described the Global Hawk, the MQ-1 Predator and the MQ-9 Reapers "... the most accident-prone aircraft in the Air Force fleet."[60] On 11 February 2010, the Global Hawks deployed in the Central Command AOR accrued 30,000 combat hours and 1,500 plus sorties.[61]

Initial operational capability was declared for the RQ-4 Block 30 in August 2011.[6] The USAF did not plan to keep the RQ-4B Block 30 in service past 2014 due to the U-2 and other platforms being less expensive in the role;[62] but Congress sought to keep it in service until December 2016.[63] The USAF had 18 RQ-4 Block 30s by the time of the passage of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013, which directed a further three RQ-4s to be procured as part of Lot 11; The USAF felt that additional aircraft were "excess to need" and likely become backup or attrition reserve models. Despite the potential retirement of the Block 30 fleet due to low reliability, low mission readiness, and high costs, the USAF released a pre-solicitation notice on 12 September 2013 for Lot 12 aircraft.[64] In planning the USAF's FY 2015 budget, the Pentagon reversed its previous decision, shifting $3 billion from the U-2 to the RQ-4 Block 30, which had become more competitive with the U-2 due to increased flying hours. Factors such as cost per flight hour (CPFH), information gathering rates, mission readiness, adverse weather operational capability, distance to targets, and onboard power still favored the U-2.[65][66]

After the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami, RQ-4s flew 300 hours over the affected areas in Japan.[67] There were also plans to survey the No. 4 reactor at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant.[68]

By November 2012, Northrop Grumman had delivered 37 Global Hawks to the USAF.[69] As of March 2014, 42 Global Hawks are in use around the world, with 32 in use by the USAF.[70]

The USAF stated that U-2 pilot and altitude advantages allow better functionality in the stormy weather and airspace restrictions of the East Asia region and its altitude and sensor advantages allow it to see further into hostile territory.[71] In October 2013, the U.S. secured basing rights to deploy RQ-4s from Japan, the first time that basing rights for the type had been secured in Northeast Asia. RQ-4s are stationed at Andersen Air Force Base in Guam, but bad weather often curtailed flights. Basing in Japan as opposed to Guam enhances spying capabilities against North Korea by eliminating range as a factor.[72] Two RQ-4s moved from Anderson AFB to Misawa AFB in mid 2014 in the type's first deployment to Japan; they were speculated to have focused on maritime patrol missions.[73] The two RQ-4s successfully performed their missions from Misawa AFB during a six-month deployment, with none cancelled due to poor weather. It was the first time that they had operated out of a civil-military airport, sharing airspace and runways with commercial aircraft safely without additional restrictions, usually taking off and landing during quieter periods of air traffic. Officials only stated that they had operated at "various places around the Pacific."[74]

On 19 September 2013, the RQ-4 Block 40 Global Hawk conducted its first wartime flight from Grand Forks Air Force Base.[75]

In November 2013, an USAF RQ-4 deployed to the Philippines after Typhoon Haiyan to assist in relief efforts. It flew from Andersen Air Force Base in Guam to relay imagery of afflicted areas to response personnel and ground commanders.[76]

In planning for the FY 2015 budget, the U-2 would be retired in favor of the RQ-4, made possible by reductions of RQ-4 operating costs and would be the first time an unmanned aircraft would completely replace a manned aircraft. The Block 40 Global Hawk may have to be retired in FY 2016 if sequestration is not repealed.[77] The U-2 will continue to fly through 2018 without replacement.[78]

In May 2014, a U.S. Global Hawk conducted a surveillance mission over Nigeria as part of the search for the kidnapped Nigerian schoolgirls. The Global Hawk joined MC-12 manned aircraft in the search.[79]

Records[edit]

On 24 April 2001, a Global Hawk flew non-stop from Edwards in the US to RAAF Base Edinburgh in Australia, making history by being the first pilotless aircraft to cross the Pacific Ocean. The flight took 22 hours, and set a world record for absolute distance flown by a UAV, 13,219.86 kilometers (8,214.44 mi).[80]

On 22 March 2008, a Global Hawk set the endurance record for full-scale, operational unmanned aircraft UAVs by flying for 33.1 hours at altitudes up to 60,000 feet over Edwards Air Force Base.[81]

From its first flight in 1998 to 9 September 2013, the combined Global Hawk fleet flew 100,000 hours. 88 percent of flights were conducted by USAF RQ-4s, while the remaining hours were flown by NASA Global Hawks, the EuroHawk, the Navy BAMS demonstrator, and the MQ-4C Triton. Approximately 75 percent of flights were in combat zones; RQ-4s flew in operations over Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya; and supported disaster response efforts in Haiti, Japan, and California.[3][82]

From 10–16 September 2014, the RQ-4 fleet flew a total of 781 hours, the most hours flown by the type during a single week. 87 percent of flights were made by USAF RQ-4s, with the rest flown by the Navy BAMS-D and NASA hurricane research aircraft.[83]

NASA[edit]

A Global Hawk at NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center

In December 2007, two Global Hawks were transferred from the U.S. Air Force to NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center at Edwards Air Force Base. Initial research activities beginning in the second quarter of 2009 supported NASA's high-altitude, long-duration Earth science missions.[84][85] The two Global Hawks were the first and sixth aircraft built under the original DARPA Advanced Concept Technology Demonstration program, and were made available to NASA when the Air Force had no further need for them.[4] Northrop Grumman is an operational partner with NASA and will use the aircraft to demonstrate new technologies and to develop new markets for the aircraft, including possible civilian uses.[85]

According to an article in the March 2010 issue of Scientific American (p. 25-27), NASA's Global Hawks were expected to begin scientific missions that month, and had been undergoing tests in late 2009, with. Initial science applications included measurements of the ozone layer and cross-Pacific transport of air pollutants and aerosols; the author of the Scientific American piece speculates that it could be used for Antarctic exploration while being based in Chile. In August–September 2010, one of the two Global Hawks was loaned for NASA's GRIP Mission (Genesis and Rapid Intensification Program).[86] Its long-term on station capabilities and long range made it a suitable aircraft for monitoring the development of Atlantic basin Hurricanes. It was modified to equip weather sensors including Ku-band radar, lightning sensors and dropsondes.[87] It successfully flew into Hurricane Earl off the United States East Coast on 2 September 2010.[88]

NATO[edit]

In 2009, NATO announced that it expects to have a fleet of up to eight Global Hawks by 2012. The aircraft are to be equipped with MP-RTIP radar systems. NATO has budgeted US$1.4 billion (€1 billion) for the project, and a letter of intent has been signed.[89] NATO signed a contract for five Block 40 Global Hawks in May 2012.[90] 12 NATO members are participating in the purchase. On 10 January 2014, Estonia revealed it wanted to participate in NATO Global Hawk usage.[91]

Potential operators[edit]

Australia considered the purchase of a number of Global Hawks for maritime and land surveillance. The Global Hawk was to be assessed against the MQ-9 Mariner in trials in 2007.[92] The Global Hawk aircraft would have operated in conjunction with manned Boeing P-8 Poseidon aircraft by 10 and 11 Squadrons of the RAAF, as a replacement of aging AP-3C Orion aircraft. In the end, the Australian government decided not to proceed and canceled the order.[93] In 2012, a procurement effort for seven UAVs by 2019 was initiated.[94] In May 2013 the Australian government confirmed its interest in acquiring the MQ-4C Triton maritime surveillance variant.[95]

Canada has also been a potential customer, looking at the Global Hawk for maritime and land surveillance as either a replacement for its fleet of CP-140 Aurora patrol aircraft or to supplement manned patrols of remote Arctic and maritime environments, before withdrawing from the joint effort in August 2011.[96] Spain has a similar requirement, and has existing contacts with Northrop Grumman.[97]

On 24 August 2013, Japan announced that the Japan Air Self-Defense Force plans to operate one Global Hawk jointly with the U.S. by 2015.[98] On 21 November 2014, the Japanese Ministry of Defense officially decided to procure the Global Hawk, which beat out the General Atomics Guardian ER;[99] Japan has also been interested in the purchase of three aircraft.[100]

In 2011, South Korea's Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) expressed interest in acquiring at least four RQ-4Bs to increase intelligence capabilities following the exchange of the Wartime Operational Control from the U.S. to the Republic of Korea. Officials debated on the topic of the Global Hawks and domestic UAV programs.[101] In September 2011, the US and South Korea discussed aircraft deployments near its land border to view North Korea and the North Korea–China border.[102] In January 2012, DAPA announced that it would not proceed with a purchase due to a price rise from US$442M to US$899M, and that other platforms such as the Global Observer or the Phantom Eye were being investigated.[103] However, in December 2012, South Korea notified Congress of a possible Foreign Military Sale of 4 RQ-4 Block 30 (I) Global Hawks with the Enhanced Integrated Sensor Suite (EISS) at an estimated cost of $1.2 billion.[104] On 5 July 2013, the Korean National Assembly advised the government to re-evaluate the RQ-4 purchase, again citing high costs.[105] On 24 March 2014, DAPA announced its intention to buy four Global Hawks through the FMS program at a cost of 880 billion won ($814.63 million), with the first to be delivered by 2018.[106] On 17 December 2014, Northrop Grumman was awarded a $657 million contract by South Korea for four RQ-4B Block 30 Global Hawks, all are to be delivered by June 2019.[107]

The New Zealand Defence Force is studying the Global Hawk, which has the range to conduct surveillance in the Southern Ocean around Antarctica, and in the Pacific Islands. The acquisition process has not moved beyond an expression of interest.[108]

The Indian Navy has expressed interest in acquiring six to eight MQ-4C Maritime Surveillance Unmanned Aircraft Systems.[109][110]

Variants[edit]

RQ-4A
Initial production version for the USAF, 16 built.
RQ-4B
Improved version with increased payload, wingspan increased to 130.9 ft (39.9 m) and length increased to 47.7 ft (14.5 m). Due to the increased size and payload the range is reduced to 8,700 nmi.[111]
RQ-4E Euro Hawk
Version for Germany based on RQ-4B and equipped with an EADS reconnaissance payload for SIGINT. Germany canceled its order in May 2013; it received one of five Euro Hawks originally ordered.[38]
MQ-4C Triton
For USN Broad Area Maritime Surveillance (BAMS) role; previously known as the RQ-4N; 4 ordered, 68 total planned.[112]
EQ-4B
Equipped with the Battlefield Airborne Communications Node (BACN) system.[113]

Autonomous tanker variant[edit]

KQ-X is a proposed autonomous tanker variant. It is currently being tested.[114][115]

Model 396[edit]

Scaled Composites and Northrop Grumman also offered an armed, 50% smaller version of the RQ-4A, known as the Scaled Composites Model 396, as part of the USAF Hunter-Killer program. The aircraft was rejected in favor of the MQ-9 Reaper.

Operators[edit]

A NASA Global Hawk in flight
 United States

Specifications (RQ-4B Block 30/40)[edit]

Data from Northrop Grumman[116] USAF[6]

General characteristics

  • Crew: 0 onboard (3 remote: Launch and Recovery Element (LRE) pilot; Mission Control Element (MCE) pilot and sensor operator)
  • Length: 47.6 ft (14.5 m)
  • Wingspan: 130.9 ft (39.9 m)
  • Height: 15.3 ft (4.7 m)
  • Empty weight: 14,950 lb (6,781 kg)
  • Gross weight: 32,250 lb (14,628 kg)
  • Powerplant: 1 × Rolls-Royce F137-RR-100 turbofan engine, 7,600 lbf (34 kN) thrust

Performance

  • Maximum speed: 391 mph (629 km/h; 340 kn)
  • Cruise speed: 357 mph (310 kn; 575 km/h)
  • Range: 14,154 mi (12,299 nmi; 22,779 km)
  • Endurance: 32+ hours
  • Service ceiling: 60,000 ft (18,288 m)

See also[edit]

Related development
Aircraft of comparable role, configuration and era
Related lists

References[edit]

This article contains material that originally came from the web article Unmanned Aerial Vehicles by Greg Goebel, which exists in the Public Domain.

  1. ^ a b c d e f g "GAO-13-294SP, Defense Acquisitions Assessments of Selected Weapon Programs" (PDF). US Government Accountability Office. March 2013. pp. 113–4. Retrieved 26 May 2013. 
  2. ^ "Soaring Costs Not Likely to Slow Down Global Hawk". National Defence Magazine, May 2006.
  3. ^ a b Northrop Grumman Unmanned Aircraft Systems Achieve 100,000 Flight Hours - Defensemedianetwork.com, 13 September 2013
  4. ^ a b "NASA Dryden Receives Two Early Global Hawk Aircraft". spaceref.com. Retrieved 1 April 2015. 
  5. ^ "Last Block 10 Global Hawk Arrives For Check Flights".
  6. ^ a b c d "RQ-4 Global Hawk fact sheet". US Air Force. Retrieved 26 July 2014. 
  7. ^ "Northrop unveils next generation Global Hawk", Aerotech News and Review, 1 September 2006.
  8. ^ McGee, Chris, "Global Hawk in demand, passes 10,000 flight hours milestone", Aerotech News and Review, 11 August 2006.
  9. ^ Northrop Grumman Press Release, 13 June 2005.
  10. ^ Selinger, M. "U.S. Navy To Receive First Global Hawk Next Week." Aviation Week & Space Technology. 1 October 2004.
  11. ^ Phillip E. Copeland. "First Unmanned Global Hawk Delivered to U.S. Navy - U.S. Department of Defense Transformation News Story". defenselink.mil. Retrieved 1 April 2015. 
  12. ^ "Navy Global Hawk Performs in RIMPAC", Aerotech News and Review, 18 August 2006.
  13. ^ "Defense.gov News Release: Navy Awards Northrop Grumman Unmanned Aircraft System Contract". defenselink.mil. Retrieved 1 April 2015. 
  14. ^ BAMS given MQ-4C designation
  15. ^ Triton Testing Ahead of Schedule - News.USNI.org, 21 February 2014
  16. ^ "Cost overruns put Global Hawk at risk"[dead link]. Flight International, 18 April 2006.
  17. ^ "Cost overruns put Global Hawk at risk", SBAC.com
  18. ^ http://www.flightglobal.com/Articles/2006/11/21/Navigation/196/210621/Global+Hawk+costs+soar+to+%2410bn.html[dead link] Flight International, 21 November 2006.
  19. ^ Putrich, Gayle. "Northrop: Global Hawk not slowing down even with cuts". Flight International, 22 February 2011.
  20. ^ "Pentagon Says Northrop Drone Isn’t ‘Effective’." Bloomberg News, 6 June 2011.
  21. ^ "Nunn-McCurdy Certification Acquisition Decision Memorandum for the Restructured RQ-4A/B Unmanned Aircraft System Global Hawk." Memorandum for Secretary of the Air Force, 14 June 2011.
  22. ^ "Defense Budget Priorities and Choices", p. 11. US DoD, January 2012.
  23. ^ Clark, Colin. "Air Force To Cut 10,000; Global Hawks Get Warehoused." Aol Defense, 27 January 2012.
  24. ^ Stephen, Trimble. "Pentagon slashes fighter squadrons, airlifters in new budget proposal". Flightglobal. Retrieved 30 January 2012. 
  25. ^ "USAF Cancels Block 30 RQ-4 Global Hawk". Defense Update, 29 January 2012.
  26. ^ "Global Hawk Program Manager Plans For Early Deliveries, Budget Cuts". InsideDefense. 22 January 2013. 
  27. ^ Whittle, Richard (17 September 2014). "A Freed Hostage: ACC Commander’s Parting Shots". breakingdefense.com (Breaking Media, Inc.). Retrieved 22 October 2014. 
  28. ^ Cost of flying Northrop’s Global Hawk down over 50% sources - sUASNews.com, 14 September 2013
  29. ^ "RQ-4 Euro Hawk UAV Readying for Takeoff". Defense Industry Daily. 15 May 2013. 
  30. ^ a b Gubisch, Michael (16 May 2013). "Germany pulls plug on Euro Hawk UAV programme". Flight International. 
  31. ^ "Northrop Grumman and EADS Defence & Security's Euro Hawk Unmanned Aircraft Completes Successful First Flight". GlobeNewswire. 30 June 2010. 
  32. ^ Norris, Guy (12 October 2009). "Northrop Grumman Unveils Euro Hawk". Aerospace Daily and Defense Report. 
  33. ^ "Euro Hawk landet in Manching". FLUG REVUE. 21 July 2011. Retrieved 1 April 2015. 
  34. ^ a b Hickmann, Christoph (23 May 2013). "De Maizière förderte Drohnenprojekt noch 2012" (in German). Süddeutsche Zeitung. 
  35. ^ Seliger, Marco (13 May 2013). "Euro Hawk wird nicht zugelassen" (in German). Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. Retrieved 14 May 2013. 
  36. ^ "German government culls costly Euro Hawk drone project". Deutsche Welle, 15 May 2013.
  37. ^ "Germany axes Euro Hawk drone program". Defense News, 14 May 2013.
  38. ^ a b "De Maiziere defends Bundeswehr reforms and Euro Hawk halt". Deutsche Welle, 15 May 2013.
  39. ^ "Germany will not buy Euro Hawk drones." Reuters, 14 May 2013.
  40. ^ "Euro Hawk" (in German). German Air Force (Luftwaffe). 15 May 2013. Retrieved 16 May 2013. 
  41. ^ Gubisch, Michael. "Germany pulls plug on Euro Hawk UAV programme". Flight International, 16 May 2013.
  42. ^ "EADS to continue to work with Germany on scrapped drone deal". Reuters. 27 May 2013. Retrieved 29 May 2013. 
  43. ^ Metha, Aaron. "Euro Hawk Team Remains Hopeful". Defense News, 28 May 2013. Retrieved 29 May 2013.
  44. ^ EURO HAWK Sets Record With 25-Hour Nonstop Flight in Germany - sUASNews.com, 3 September 2013
  45. ^ Germany's Euro Hawk drone may take flight again - Airrecognition.com, 5 October 2014
  46. ^ Germany May Revive Euro Hawk Using MQ-4C - Aviationweek.com, 12 January 2015
  47. ^ MEHTA, AARON (26 January 2014). "Global Hawk Wins in 2015 Request, Sources Say". www.defensenews.com. Gannett Government Media Corporation. Retrieved 26 January 2014. 
  48. ^ "Northrop Grumman to test U-2 sensors on Global Hawk". "IHS Janes 360", 29 April 2015. Retrieved 8 May 2015.
  49. ^ [1]
  50. ^ "RQ-4 Block 20 Global Hawk". Retrieved 2010-08-16. 
  51. ^ RQ-4 Global Hawk & MQ-4C Triton - Bga-Aeroweb.com
  52. ^ "Hughes Integrated Surveillance & Reconnaissance (HISAR)". Jane's Information Group
  53. ^ a b Aerotech News and Review, vol 21, issue 27, 4 August 2006
  54. ^ "Next generation of Global Hawks ready to roll". Retrieved 2010-08-16. 
  55. ^ Air Force tests new surveillance capability - AF.mil, 28 April 2014
  56. ^ "AN/ALQ to AN/ALT - Equipment Listing". designation-systems.net. Retrieved 1 April 2015. 
  57. ^ Global Hawk Crashes: Who’s to Blame?. May 2003.
  58. ^ Global Hawk crash unlikely to hurt program. Aerospace Daily via globalsecurity.org, 8 January 2002.
  59. ^ High-Altitude American Spy Plane Crashes in Pakistan; Engine Failure Cited. 10 July 2002.
  60. ^ McGarry, Brendan (18 June 2012) Drones Most Accident-Prone U.S. Air Force Craft: BGOV Barometer. Bloomberg, Retrieved 4 February 2013.
  61. ^ John Pike. "Deployed Global Hawks surpass 30,000 combat flying hours, 1,500 sorties". globalsecurity.org. Retrieved 1 April 2015. 
  62. ^ USAF details plan to halt Block 30 Global Hawk use - Flightglobal.com, 19 April 2013
  63. ^ Lawmakers: Keep flying Global Hawk Block 30 through 2016 - Militarytimes.com, 22 May 2013
  64. ^ US Air Force to buy additional RQ-4 Global Hawk Block 30s - Flightglobal.com, 12 September 2013
  65. ^ "Global Hawk, U-2 Duel Resumes in ’15 Budget Fight". Aviationweek.com, 20 January 2014
  66. ^ [2]
  67. ^ Seth Robson (12 September 2011). "Global Hawk invaluable after Japan disasters". Stars and Stripes. 
  68. ^ "Military Helicopters Finally Dump Seawater on Over-Heating Fukushima Reactors". 
  69. ^ Northrop Grumman Delivers 37th Global Hawk to US Air Force – Deagel.com, 7 January 2013
  70. ^ Northrop Grumman Delivers Global Hawk Early and On Cost - WSJ.com, 19 March 2014
  71. ^ "Will Congress Let the Air Force Abandon the Global Hawk?". Defense News. Retrieved 1 April 2015. 
  72. ^ Agreement will allow U.S. to fly long-range surveillance drones from base in Japan - sUASNews.com, 4 October 2013
  73. ^ Global Hawk to deploy to Japan for first time - Militarytimes.com, 22 March 2014
  74. ^ USAF Global Hawks touch down after Japan deployment - Shephardmedia.com, 20 October 2014
  75. ^ Block 40 Global Hawk goes to 'war': USAF - Flightglobal.com, 21 November 2013
  76. ^ Northrop Global Hawk UAV Deployed to Assist Philippine Typhoon Relief - sUASNews.com, 10 January 2014
  77. ^ How Hagel spending plan will transform US military - Flightglobal.com, 26 February 2014
  78. ^ 2016 Budget To Bring U-2 Stay Of Execution - Aviationweek.com, 14 January 2015
  79. ^ U.S. ‘Global Hawk’ Drone Joins Search for Kidnapped Nigerian Schoolgirls - sUASNews.com, 14 May 2014
  80. ^ "Aviation history as Global Hawk completes US-Australia flight." Australian Ministry of Defence press release. 24 April 2001
  81. ^ "Northrop Grumman's Global Hawk Unmanned Aircraft Sets 33-Hour Flight Endurance Record". spacewar.com. Retrieved 1 April 2015. 
  82. ^ Northrop Grumman Unmanned Portfolio Achieves 100,000 Flight Hours Over Last 15 Years - Northrop Grumman news release, 9 September 2013
  83. ^ Global Hawk flies record mission hours - Shephardmedia.com, 9 January 2015
  84. ^ NASA DFRC web description of aircraft
  85. ^ a b Reed Business Information Limited. "Northrop plans civilian market Global Hawk demonstrations". flightglobal.com. Retrieved 1 April 2015. 
  86. ^ "GRIP". nasa.gov. Retrieved 1 April 2015. 
  87. ^ "GRIP Global Hawk Modifications and Capabilities" (PDF)
  88. ^ "NASA GRIP News Hurricane Earl News Release". NASA
  89. ^ Trimble, Stephen. "NATO plans to deploy first RQ-4s in 2012". Flight International, 14 January 2009.
  90. ^ Hoyle, Craig. "NATO inks $1.7 billion Global Hawk order". Flight International, 21 May 2012.
  91. ^ Estonia plans to purchase Global Hawk drone to increase its military reconnaissance capabilities - Armyrecognition.com, 11 January 2014
  92. ^ Australia funds study. Flight International 09/05/06.
  93. ^ "Govt scraps plan for military drones" – ABC news
  94. ^ "Australia moves to buy $3b spy drone fleet". radioaustralia.net.au. Retrieved 1 April 2015. 
  95. ^ "Australia issues Triton Letter of Request". australianaviation.com.au. Retrieved 1 April 2015. 
  96. ^ Trimble, Stephen (18 August 2011). "AUVSI: Canada withdraws from NATO RQ-4 program". Flightglobal. Retrieved 18 August 2011. 
  97. ^ Northrop negocia la venta de diez aviones espía a España CincoDias.com
  98. ^ Japan plans to add Global Hawk unmanned aerial vehicle for reconnaissance duties in 2015 - Armyrecognition.com, 24 August 2013
  99. ^ Japan Officially Selects Osprey, Global Hawk, E-2D - Defensenews.com, 21 November 2014
  100. ^ Japan may buy US drones to spy on China military 5 October 2010, The China Post of Taiwan
  101. ^ "(2nd LD) S. Korea vows swifter deployment of spy drones, stealth fighters - YONHAP NEWS". yonhapnews.co.kr. Retrieved 1 April 2015. 
  102. ^ "US RQ-4A GLOBAL HAWK UAV". airforceworld.com. Retrieved 1 April 2015. 
  103. ^ Lee, Tae-hoon. "Seoul drops plan to buy Global Hawk UAV". Korea Times. 
  104. ^ South Korea Seeks Four RQ-4 Block 30 Global Hawks – Deagel.com, 24 December 2012.
  105. ^ Parliament advises review of Taurus, Global Hawk acquisition plan - Koreaherald.com, 5 July 2013
  106. ^ S.Korea announces plan to buy Northrop Grumman Global Hawks - Reuters.com, 24 March 2014
  107. ^ Seoul finalises $657 million Global Hawk purchase - Flightglobal.com, 17 December 2014
  108. ^ Gower, Patrick (2009-09-30). "Spy drones on NZ defence wish list". The New Zealand Herald (APN News & Media). Retrieved 26 February 2012. 
  109. ^ "Indian Navy Interested in Northrop Grumman MQ-4C Maritime Surveillance Unmanned Aircraft Systems". India Defence. 8 February 2011. 
  110. ^ "India will purchase the MQ-4C BAMS drone aircraft". 2012-04-02. 
  111. ^ "Factsheets : RQ-4 Global Hawk Unmanned Aircraft System : RQ-4 Global Hawk Unmanned Aircraft System". af.mil. Archived from the original on 28 October 2008. Retrieved 1 April 2015. 
  112. ^ "Roll-out of a marine UAV Global Hawk will be held in June" (Automatically translated into English by Google)
  113. ^ "U.S. Air Force Officially Designates Aircraft Flying Battlefield Airborne Communications Node System". irconnect.com. Retrieved 1 April 2015. 
  114. ^ "DARPA Testing Global Hawk Drones As Aerial Tankers". defensetech.org. Retrieved 1 April 2015. 
  115. ^ "BBC News Technology Unstaffed drone refuelling test 'successful'"
  116. ^ http://www.northropgrumman.com/Capabilities/GlobalHawk/Pages/default.aspx

External links[edit]

External images
Northrop Grumman RQ-4A Global Hawk Block 10 Cutaway
Northrop Grumman RQ-4A Global Hawk Block 10 Cutaway from Flightglobal.com