Northrop Grumman, SAN DIEGO: Northrop Grumman Corporation has completed acceptance testing of the first production version of a new integrated sensor suite that will enhance imaging capability for the U.S. Air Force. The milestone clears the way for the company to begin installing the improved sensor package, which includes electro-optical and infrared cameras and synthetic aperture radar, on its RQ-4A Global Hawk air vehicles.
Raytheon Space & Airborne Systems produces the sensor package for Northrop Grumman's Global Hawk program.
“The installation of this new sensor package on Global Hawk is a significant milestone for the program,” said George Guerra, Northrop Grumman's Air Force Global Hawk program manager. “The imagery provided by this sensor, even under the worst imaginable environmental conditions on the ground, will go a long way in meeting the needs of the warfighter.”
The new sensor package features improvements derived from technology developed and used on the U-2 program. Its new imaging modes are improved from the current Global Hawk sensor suite, which drew praise during Operation Iraqi Freedom for its ability to “see” potential targets and help guide allied troop movements through blinding sandstorms. Northrop Grumman expects to accept several more production sensor suites from Raytheon later this year.
Two RQ-4A Global Hawks with the new production sensor suites are ready to deploy this fall in the global war on terrorism.
With more than 4,500 hours flown in combat, Global Hawk has provided thousands of quality images directly to battlefield commanders during Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom. The new sensor package will allow warfighters to receive better imagery from Global Hawk than ever before.
Global Hawk flies autonomously at an altitude of at least 60,000 feet, above inclement weather and prevailing winds for more than 35 hours. During a single mission, it provides detailed intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance information in near-real time over 40,000 square miles – an area approximately the size of Illinois.
Northrop Grumman leads a Global Hawk industry team that comprises U.S. and international companies. The unmanned system's primary program elements are provided by team members as follows:
— Integrated sensor suite, Raytheon Space & Airborne Systems, El Segundo, Calif.
— Ground station, Raytheon Intelligence & Information Systems, Falls Church, Va.
— Engine, Rolls-Royce Corporation, Indianapolis, Ind.
— Communication system, L-3 Communications, West, Salt Lake City, Utah;
— Wing, Vought Aircraft Industries, Dallas, Texas
— V-Tail assembly and other composite structures, Aurora Flight Sciences, Bridgeport, West Va.
Northrop Grumman Integrated Systems is a premier aerospace and defense systems integration organization. Headquartered in El Segundo, Calif., it designs, develops, produces and supports network-enabled integrated systems and subsystems optimized for use on networks. For its government and civil customers worldwide, Integrated Systems delivers best-value solutions, products and services that support military and homeland-defense missions in the areas of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance; space access; battle-management command and control; and integrated strike warfare.
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