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Tue, Jul 19, 2005

Global Hawk Reaches Flight Milestone

7,000 Hours In The Air

Northrop Grumman's prototype of the RQ-4 Global Hawk unmanned aerial reconnaissance system reached its 7,000th total flight hour on June 22 during a combat mission supporting the global war on terrorism. The US Air Force's fleet of Global Hawk unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) has now flown more than 4,300 hours in combat.

The currently deployed Global Hawk UAV is a prototype system from the advanced-concept technology-demonstration phase of the program. It was originally built to prove the viability of a high-altitude, long-endurance autonomous UAV, not to sustain the rigorous flight schedule of an operational deployment. That plan changed, however, after Sept. 11, 2001 when the Air Force requested that Global Hawk deploy immediately to provide image-based information for Operation Enduring Freedom.

"The use of the advanced-concept technology-demonstration vehicles to support the global war on terrorism has proven the durability of the Global Hawk system and its ability to meet warfighters' needs for critical intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance data," said George Guerra, Northrop Grumman's Air Force Global Hawk program manager. "Its deployment has also allowed us to identify and incorporate key system enhancements into the production configuration."

Through three deployments in support of the war on terrorism, the six prototype Global Hawk aircraft have successfully completed more than 200 missions. The Air Force has requested that two of the production-version RQ-4A Global Hawks be ready to deploy at the end of the summer.

Global Hawk flies autonomously at an altitude of 65,000 feet, above inclement weather and prevailing winds for more than 35 hours. During a single mission, it provides detailed intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance information on a 40,000 square mile area in near-real time.

FMI: Northrop Grumman Global Hawk Site

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