The contract, which runs through 2011, also includes a ground station consisting of a launch and recovery element and a mission control element, as well as two additional sensor suites that will be retrofitted into previous production aircraft.
“Northrop Grumman remains committed to providing the warfighter the most reliable and effective solution for their intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance needs, ” said George Guerra, Northrop Grumman vice president of HALE systems. “We are confident that the Global Hawk Block 30s and Block 40s developed under the Lot 7 contract will provide them with an unprecedented capability.”
As the world’s first fully autonomous HALE UAS, Global Hawk can fly at altitudes of more than 60, 000 feet for more than 32 hours and send near-real-time reconnaissance imagery and signals intelligence data to air, ground and sea forces. It can fly three times as long and operates at a fraction of the cost per flight hour of its manned counterpart. Compared to other similar UAS, a single Global Hawk collects the same information as 18 smaller medium-altitude UAS.