Northrup Grumman Global Hawk
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Information on the Global Hawk
Global Hawk currently is undergoing flight testing at the Air Force Flight Test Center at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., with more than 1,700 hours and more than 120 successful sorties flown. The Global Hawk Program, Reconnaissance Systems Program Office, Aeronautical Systems Center is located at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio, which assumed total program control on Oct. 1, 1998.
Global Hawk began as an Advanced Concept Technology Demonstration in 1995 to give warfighters a rapidly-developed prototype that could be used for Military Utility Assessment and early operational activities. In June 1999, Global Hawk began a series of exercises sponsored by U.S. Joint Forces Command to determine its future military utility.
On April 20, 2000, Global Hawk Air Vehicle No. 4 deployed to Eglin AFB, Fla., to participate in two exercises that included its first trans-oceanic flight to Europe, and first mission flown in one theater of operations while under control from another.
The first exercise, Linked Seas 00, which ran May 1-12, 2000, involved joint and service war-fighters, NATO's Supreme Allied Command Atlantic, its regional command SOUTHLANT, and several NATO nations, among them Portugal. Global Hawk provided direct support to amphibious operations in a joint-force environment involving air, sea, sub-surface and land-based assets.
During the second exercise, Joint Task Force Exercise 00-02, which took place from May 14-26, 2000, Global Hawk provided direct support for the joint maritime mission of a Navy Carrier Battle Group and an Amphibious Ready Group/Marine Expeditionary Unit in a littoral (land-sea) environment. Global Hawk returned to Edwards AFB, Calif., June 19, 2000, concluding the deployment exercise demonstration program.
According to U.S. Joint Forces Command, during 22 individual sorties it flew during the yearlong series of joint deployment exercises, Global Hawk proved its military worth by providing critical intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities to the warfighting community.
To demonstrate interoperability between U.S. and Australian military systems, Global Hawk flew 7,500 miles nonstop across the Pacific to Australia on April 22-23, 2001, setting new world records for UAV endurance. U.S. and Australian Defence Science Technology Organisation officials evaluated UAV performance and future military potential during 11 sorties in the land-sea environment before it flew home to Edwards AFB, six weeks later.
In March 2001, Global Hawk entered the Engineering, Manufacturing and Development phase of defense acquisition. Global Hawk is currently deployed supporting Operation Enduring Freedom
The Global Hawk Unmanned Aerial Vehicle provides Air Force and joint battlefield commanders near-real-time, high-resolution, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance imagery. In the last year, the Global Hawk provided Air Force and joint warfighting commanders more than 15,000 of these images to support Operation Enduring Freedom, flying more than 50 missions and 1,000 combat hours to date.
Cruising at extremely high altitudes, Global Hawk can survey large geographic areas with pinpoint accuracy, to give military decision-makers the most current information about enemy location, resources and personnel.
Once mission parameters are programmed into Global Hawk, the UAV can autonomously taxi, take off, fly, remain on station capturing imagery, return and land. Ground-based operators monitor UAV health and status, and can change navigation and sensor plans during flight as necessary.
Global Hawk, which has a wingspan of 116 feet (35.3 meters) and is 44 feet (13.4 meters) long, can range as far as 12,000 nautical miles, at altitudes up to 65,000 feet (19,812 meters), flying at speeds approaching 340 knots (about 400 mph) for as long as 35 hours. During a typical mission, the aircraft can fly 1,200 miles to an area of interest and remain on station for 24 hours. Its cloud-penetrating, Synthetic Aperture Radar/Ground Moving Target Indicator, electro-optical and infrared sensors can image an area the size of Illinois (40,000 nautical square miles) in just 24 hours. Through satellite and ground systems, the imagery can be relayed in near-real-time to battlefield commanders.
When fully-fueled for flight, Global Hawk weighs approximately 25,600 pounds (11,612 kilograms). More than half the UAV's components are constructed of lightweight, high-strength composite materials, including its wings, wing fairings, empennage, engine cover, engine intake and three radomes. Its main fuselage is standard aluminum, semi-monocoque construction.
The principal contractors for Global Hawk are:
Northrop Grumman's Ryan Aeronautical Center, San Diego, Calif. -- prime contractor
Raytheon Systems Company units at Falls Church, Va., and El Segundo, Calif. -- ground segment and sensors
Rolls-Royce Allison, Indianapolis, Ind. -- turbofan engine
Vought Aircraft Company, Dallas, Texas. -- carbon-fiber wing
L3 Com, Salt Lake City, Utah -- communications systems
Global Hawk is one of two UAVs currently under development and acquisition by ASC. The second UAV is Predator, a medium-altitude (25,000 feet) vehicle used by U.S. forces in Bosnia and Operation Allied Force in Kosovo, Yugoslavia and is also supporting Operation Enduring Freedom. The Predator has entered the formal Air Force defense acquisition process.
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