AUVSI: Northrop says 2010 is the Year of the Global Hawk

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Northrop Grumman has declared 2010 "the Year of the Global Hawk Enterprise."

The company's vice president for high-altitude long-endurance (HALE) systems, George Guerra, reviewed the Global Hawk program's accomplishments for the year thus far at AUVSI North America, and previewed what's next for the high-flying surveillance UAV.

The HALE system has had a big year, Northrop says, completing missions over Haiti with the US Air Force following the January earthquake; preliminary design review on the US Navy's Broad Area Maritime Surveillance (BAMS) version of the aircraft; and the first flight of the EuroHawk variant. Currently, the EuroHawk is at Edwards AFB in flight-envelope testing. Delivery expected to Germany next spring, says Guerra.

A long list of Global Hawk deliveries is expected to begin, Guerra says, starting in a matter of weeks with new UAVs being deployed to two new bases. Once the aircraft are stationed at Guam and Signonella, the Global Hawk will have complete global reach, capable of rapidly getting an eye in the sky over any location in the world as needed. "Global Hawk is coming to a theatre near you," Guerra quips.

Following the international deployments, Northrop expects to deliver the Block 2 Battlefield Airborne Communications Node (BACN) version of Global Hawk this fall, ahead of schedule, Guerra says. EuroHawk will be delivered to Germany in the spring.

The company is also working with the Pentagon on cost assessments, seeing ways to save on the program, Guerra says. The most recent Defense Acquisition Board decision authorized funding for Lot 9 production and long lead funding for Lot 10. The program of record still includes 77 aircraft for the US Air Force and another 68 in the BAMS configuration for the US Navy. Because the program is still in initial operational test and evaluation, the most the Pentagon can purchase per year is five aircraft.