“We’re in four acquisition stages at the same time – development, test, production and sustainment,” said Brown. “That’s pretty impressive for an acquisition program that was just approved in fiscal year 2001.”
The last Block 10 production aircraft recently arrived at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., for a series of acceptance and operational check flights by the 452nd Flight Test Squadron before delivery to the 12th Reconnaissance Squadron at Beale Air Force Base, Calif. The 12th RS operates the Global Hawk.
Northrop Grumman, the prime contractor, is producing a larger Global Hawk, with Block 20, 30 and 40 aircraft to possess greater capability, including a 50 percent increase in payload capacity.
Reflecting the program’s joint nature, the Air Force helped the Navy purchase two Global Hawks for the Navy’s Global Hawk Maritime Demonstration program.
The Navy used a Global Hawk during Exercise Trident Warrior ’05 last November and December and in an Air Force-led demonstration in the U.S. Southern Command area of responsibility in February and March this year.
The Global Hawk Maritime Demonstration program participated virtually in the Joint Expeditionary Forces Experiment this spring and will take part in the Rim of the Pacific exercise – the world’s largest international maritime exercise – this month.
The maritime demonstrations are planned through fiscal year 2011 as the Navy refines Broad Area Maritime Surveillance tactics, techniques and procedures.
The Global Hawk unmanned aerial system provides battlefield commanders with near-real-time, high-resolution intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance imagery.
Cruising at altitudes up to 65,000 feet, Global Hawk can survey large geographic areas with pinpoint accuracy to give military decision makers current information about enemy location, resources and personnel.