The Teledyne Ryan Aeronautical Global Hawk unmanned air vehicle (UAV) flew for the first time at Edwards AFB, California, on 28 February despite several small anomalies which shortened the inaugural flight.

The Global Hawk, a high altitude long endurance (HALE) UAV, flew for 56min, although the initial mission was planned to last more than 1h. The UAV reached 32,000ft (9,750m), before returning to the base's main runway.

The entire flight , which covered a figure of eight track, was performed autonomously. It was decided to curtail the maiden flight after the Global Hawk's landing gear retracted automatically but failed to lock in the stowed position. Allison says that the Global Hawk's AE3007H turbofan engine performed flawlessly. Milestones for the test flight programme will include the Global Hawk's fourth flight, which should take it to 65,000ft. The sixth test is set to last up to 40h.

Air vehicle number two, which is nearing completion, will be used to validate the performance of sensor and communications systems in tests at Edwards to be carried out later this year.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is managing the Global Hawk advanced concept technology demonstration for the Defense Airborne Reconnaissance Office.

Source: Flight International