A Northrop Grumman RQ-4A Global Hawk unmanned air vehicle (UAV) reached an altitude of 65,100ft (19,850m) and broke the endurance record for a jet-powered UAV during a 31.5h mission from Edwards AFB, California, on 14/15 April. The record had been held for 26 years by the Compass Cope-R.

During the flight, the Global Hawk took 243 synthetic aperture radar (SAR) spot images, 51 SAR wide-area search images and 165 ground movement target indicator images.

The command team also used two separate Ku-band satellites to demonstrate control and communications across transcontinental distances. The Global Hawk will make its first transatlantic flight this week to participate in NATO exercises.

Meanwhile, a US Air Force investigation board has concluded that a software problem caused a Global Hawk to veer off Edwards' main runway last December. The nose gear collapsed causing $5.3 million worth of damage to the sensor suite.

A known software problem between the mission planning system and the aircraft commanded the vehicle to taxi at 155kt (290km/h).

Source: Flight International