Northrop Grumman has announced the start of in-house system tests of the first development multifunction active sensor at its Norwalk, Connecticut radar facility, in preparation for flight tests in June. The second development radar will leave the facility in September.
The sensor, an X-band active electronically scanned array radar, is the central intelligence-collecting component of the broad area maritime surveillance (BAMS) aircraft, based on the Global Hawk.
The US Navy plans to buy 65 BAMS aircraft to provide persistent coverage of wide swaths of ocean and to augment its new Boeing P-8A Poseidon.
Integration with the second MQ-4C development aircraft, now in production at Northrop's Palmdale plant in California, is planned for July 2012.
"With our successful critical design review behind us and sensor testing under way, our customer-industry team is rapidly pulling the components together that will result in first MQ-4C flight next year," said Steve Enewold, Northrop's vice-president for the BAMS programme, in a company announcement.
The sensor prototype has been flying on Northrop's Gulfstream II testbed since 2007.