Representatives with Northrop Grumman told ANN Monday that two new Air Force RQ-4 Global Hawk unmanned aerial reconnaissance systems have already flown approximately 50 missions, and more than 1,000 combat hours, in support of coalition forces since their deployment in the Persian Gulf in January of this year.
The initial production versions of the Global Hawk have improved sensor capabilities over previous versions of the versatile UAV.
“Our Number 1 goal is to support the persistent intelligence collection needs of the warfighter,” said George Guerra, Northrop Grumman program director for Global Hawk. “The system is quickly proving to be an even more valuable reconnaissance asset than the originally deployed assets.”
“We are extremely pleased with the system’s performance to date and the unique capability that it provides to the warfighter,” said Col. Willie Nunn, chief of the Air Force’s Air Combat Command/A8H high-altitude ISR division. “As the system continues to mature, we will be able to provide even more ISR capability to our armed forces.”
The Global Hawk system was first deployed as advanced concept technology demonstration vehicles shortly following the 9/11 attacks. Global Hawks have now flown more than 6,000 hours and 260 missions in support of the global war on terror, and the family of Global Hawk aircraft has accumulated more than 10,000 flight hours over all missions.
“Reaching 10,000 program hours is truly an amazing feat, especially since the program was first put on contract just over 10 years ago and has only been flying since February 1998,” said Jerry Madigan, Northrop Grumman vice president of high-altitude, long endurance systems.
The Global Hawks can operate at altitudes over 60,000 feet, and survey vast geographic regions with pinpoint accuracy. Once mission parameters are programmed into Global Hawk, the vehicle can take off, fly, return and land autonomously. It can be re-tasked at a moment’s notice to meet the immediate intelligence needs of battlefield commanders.