Northrop Grumman received a $75 million contract award on 30 June, with the sum providing long-lead funding to start building two RQ-4 Global Hawk Block 30 and four Block 40 unmanned air vehicles for the US Air Force.

The USAF's Block 30 examples will be equipped with signals and image intelligence sensors, while its Block 40 air vehicles will be the first to receive the Northrop/Raytheon multi-platform radar technology insertion programme (MP-RTIP) sensor.

The latter payload will enable the Global Hawk system to perform wide area surveillance of even stealthy targets, such as small cruise missiles.

Meanwhile, Northrop on 25 June unveiled the first of 15 Block 40 Global Hawks already under contract. The event took place at its Palmdale production facility in California. The new production standard aircraft is scheduled to enter operational use next year, at Grand Forks AFB, North Dakota.

The first Block 40 aircraft will begin flight testing during July, and will later be used to support operational evaluation of the MP-RTIP payload, says Northrop.

Northrop Grumman Global Hawk Block 40
 © Northrop Grumman

Source: Flight International