Curtiss-Wright to upgrade flight-control computer for variations of Global Hawk UAV
ASHBURN, Va., 29 May 2014. Unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) designers at the Northrop Grumman Corp. Aerospace Systems sector in Rancho Bernardo, Calif., needed avionics flight computers for planned upgrades to the company's Global Hawk long-endurance high-altitude military drones. They Found their solution from the Curtiss-Wright Corp. Defense Solutions Division in Ashburn, Va.
Northrop Grumman is ordering the integrated mission management computer (IMMC) system from Curtiss-Wright for the High Altitude, Long Endurance (HALE) Enterprise IMMC upgrade program.
New IMMC flight computers from Curtiss-Wright will go aboard several variations of the Northrop Grumman Global Hawk UAV, including the U.S. Navy Triton long-endurance maritime patrol UAV, the NATO AGS UAV, and the U.S. Air Force Block 20, 30, and 40 versions of the Global Hawk.
The IMMC consists of two Curtiss-Wright flight computers, which were developed originally by Vista Controls Corp. in Santa Clarita, Calif. Curtiss-Wright acquired Vista in 2001. The first contract for flight computers on the Global Hawk was let by Teledyne Ryan, the original designer of Global Hawk, to Vista Controls. Teledyne Ryan was acquired by Northrop Grumman in 1999.
The IMMC combines the data from a Global Positioning System (GPS) and an internal measurement unit (IMU) and then sends control instructions to a Northrop Grumman inertial navigation system.
The IMMC first flew on a Global Hawk in 2001 when a Global Hawk made the first non-stop flight by an unmanned aircraft across the Pacific Ocean, flying from California to Australia, a distance of 7,500 miles, in 23 hours.
The upgraded IMMC flight computers from Curtiss-Wright represent a new baseline architecture for the different versions of the Northrop Grumman Global Hawk UAV. The upgrades are designed to reduce maintenance and inventory costs, simplify obsolescence management, and increase UAV availability.
The dual-redundant architecture provides fault-tolerant flight control for the Global Hawk aircraft and interfaces with all necessary onboard sensors for safe flight. Curtiss-Wright should finish the work by December 2014.
The IMMC computers control the UAV’s flight, communicate with onboard sensors, and relay information to ground stations. Curtiss-Wright will manufacture the products covered by this agreement at its Santa Clarita, Calif., facility.