Northrop Grumman is studying options to increase the payload of its RQ-4B Global Hawk unmanned air vehicle by 900kg (1,980lb) by adding two centre wing pods. Preliminary windtunnel tests have been conducted using subscale models of the 450kg-capacity pods, says Ed Walby, Northrop’s director, business development for high-altitude long-endurance systems.

In addition to carrying mission equipment, a version of the pod could be developed for use as a dispenser for atmospheric sounding and ocean surface environmental data collection payloads, says Walby. This would be derived from an existing Northrop dispenser developed for the BQM-34 Firebee UAV used for special-forces roles. Discussions have been held with NASA and the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration about potential scientific roles using the dispenser configuration.

Consideration is also being given to enabling the RQ-4B to carry mini and micro UAVs as deployable augmentation sensors, says Northrop. Candidates include Raytheon’s Silent Eyes glider micro-UAV and Northrop’s Killer Bee mini-UAV (Flight International, 21-27 June).

Meanwhile, upper forward fuselage mounting points for conformal electronic intelligence gathering arrays required for the German air force’s future Eurohawk UAV will be standardised for all production Global Hawks, says Northrop.


Source: Flight International