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Release No: 082-97
February 20, 1997


The Department of Defense's newest unmanned air vehicle (UAV), Global Hawk, was unveiled today at Teledyne Ryan Aeronautical's San Diego, Calif., facility. Global Hawk is a high-altitude, long-endurance unmanned aerial reconnaissance system that will provide military field commanders with high- resolution, near-real-time imagery of large geographic areas.

The Global Hawk is optimized for low-to-moderate threat, long endurance reconnaissance missions where range, endurance and persistent coverage are paramount. The vehicle, with its 116- foot wingspan and 44-foot length, carries both synthetic aperture radar and electro-optical and infrared sensors. The Global Hawk system will be able to survey, in one day, an area equivalent to the state of Illinois (40,000 square nautical miles), while providing imagery with a three-foot resolution. Alternatively, the system can provide more detailed (one-foot resolution), 'spot' images if needed. For a typical mission, the Global Hawk system can fly to a target area 3,000 nautical miles away, and stay airborne for 24 hours collecting data before returning. It flies at altitudes up to 65,000 feet.

Following today's rollout, the Global Hawk vehicle will undergo further systems integration work at the Teledyne Ryan Aeronautical facility. This summer, the air vehicle will move to the Air Force Flight Test Center, Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., where flight tests will occur. First flight is expected in late summer or early fall.

The Global Hawk system is being developed within the two- vehicle High Altitude Endurance UAV Program, managed by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) for the Defense Airborne Reconnaissance Office, with Air Force, Navy and Army participation. The program is being executed using DARPA's Section 845 'Other Transactions' authority, allowing extreme flexibility in the program's management.

Cost is the single requirement for the program. Contractors are required to meet a $10 million unit flyaway price (FY 1994 dollars) for the average cost of air vehicles 11-20. They can trade off all other system attributes, including performance, against this cost requirement. This 'cost as an independent variable' approach allows DoD to reach a system solution that is not the best imaginable, but instead one that is good enough to do the job and is affordable.

Global Hawk is complemented by the DarkStar system, a UAV with low-observable characteristics. DarkStar is for use in high- threat environments where ensured, survivable coverage is more important than range and endurance. The complementary nature of the two systems provides a flexible, cost-effective mix for military commanders.

The Global Hawk and DarkStar High Altitude Endurance UAV program is an Advanced Concept Technology Demonstration, with the US Atlantic Command as the operational sponsor. Following completion of Global Hawk flight tests at the end of FY 1998, the Global Hawk and its companion system DarkStar will start operational user demonstrations with US Atlantic Command.

Teledyne Ryan Aeronautical is the prime contractor for the Global Hawk. Raytheon E-Systems is developing the advanced sensor payload. The ground mission control segment is being developed by Hughes Aircraft, and the communications system is being developed by Lockheed Martin Communications Systems.

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