Block 40 Global Hawk UAV completes envelope expansion flights

FARNBOROUGH, England, 22 July 2010. Northrop Grumman Corp.'s (NYSE:NOC) first Block 40 RQ-4 Global Hawk high altitude long endurance (HALE) unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) has completed envelope expansion flights, just six months after conducting its first flight. The Block 40 aircraft will be equipped with the high performance Multi-Platform Radar Technology Insertion Program (MP-RTIP) sensor and is the first of 22 Block 40 Global Hawks assigned to Grand Forks Air Force Base, North Dakota.

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Posted by John McHale

FARNBOROUGH, England, 22 July 2010. Northrop Grumman Corp.'s (NYSE:NOC) first Block 40 RQ-4 Global Hawk high altitude long endurance (HALE) unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) has completed envelope expansion flights, just six months after conducting its first flight. The Block 40 aircraft will be equipped with the high performance Multi-Platform Radar Technology Insertion Program (MP-RTIP) sensor and is the first of 22 Block 40 Global Hawks assigned to Grand Forks Air Force Base, North Dakota.

The company also delivered on time the first development test MP-RTIP sensor to Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., for integration on the aircraft. The MP-RTIP sensor has completed radar system level performance verification on a surrogate aircraft, and will be integrated into AF-18, a Block 40 Global Hawk UAV, for operational evaluation.

"Our next step is to finalize sensor integration with the airframe and conduct the first flight of the full Block 40 system later this year," says Duke Dufresne, vice president of the Strike and Surveillance Systems division of Northrop Grumman's Aerospace Systems sector.

Global Hawk's range, endurance and large payload capabilities are well suited to provide persistent surveillance with MP-RTIP. Flying at altitudes as high as 60,000 feet for more than 32 hours per sortie at speeds approaching 340 knots, the MP-RTIP-equipped Block 40 Global Hawk can persistently see through most types of weather, day or night.

Northrop Grumman is the prime contractor for the Global Hawk and MP-RTIP programs and continues to move these technologies forward under the stewardship of the Air Force's Aeronautical Systems Center at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, and the Electronic Systems Center, located at Hanscom Air Force Base, Mass. Northrop Grumman's Norwalk, Conn., facility is the principal MP-RTIP radar developer along with principal subcontractor, Raytheon Space and Airborne Systems in El Segundo, Calif.

The principal Global Hawk industry team includes: Aurora Flight Sciences, Bridgeport, West Va. (V-tail assembly and other composite structures); L-3 Communications, Salt Lake City (communication system); Raytheon , Waltham, Mass. (ground station); Rolls-Royce Corp., Indianapolis (engine); and Vought Aircraft Industries, Dallas (wing).

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