In response to the increasing demands placed on the RQ-4 Global Hawk, the US Air Force has awarded Northrop Grumman a $50 million contract to establish the first dedicated repair line for the unmanned surveillance aircraft.
The interim repair line, which will be separate from the Global Hawk production line, will cater for the RQ-4's integrated sensor suite (ISS) and enhanced ISS, which will become operational on Block 30 air vehicles later this year.
Block 10 RQ-4s use the ISS, produced by Raytheon, which comprises a synthetic aperture radar and electro-optical/infrared camera.
Raytheon's EISS is used by the air force's Block 20 Global Hawks, and offers twice the range and resolution of the ISS. This has prompted the service to predict heavier use of the system than had been originally planned.
© Northrop Grumman
Block 30 Global Hawks will have 50% more payload capacity than the Block 10 design, enabling them to also carry Northrop's advanced signals intelligence payload.
The ISS and EISS repair line will be based at Raytheon Space and Airborne Systems' El Segundo facility in California.