Northrop Grumman Corporation has won a $302.9 million fixed price incentive fee contract to produce and deliver five RQ-4 Global Hawk high-altitude, long-endurance (HALE) unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) to the United States Air Force in a contract that runs through 2011.
The project also includes development of a ground station consisting of a launch and recovery element and a mission control element, plus two additional sensor suites that will be retrofitted into previous production aircraft.
According to the company, Global Hawk can soar at altitudes of more than 60,000 feet for more than 32 hours and send near-real-time reconnaissance imagery and signals intelligence data to air, ground, and sea forces. It can fly three times as long and operates at a fraction of the cost per flight hour of its manned counterpart.
The unmanned aircraft are currently flown in four locations across the globe: Beale Air Force Base, home of the 9th Reconnaissance Wing and the RQ-4's main operating base, in Northern California; Edwards Air Force Base in Southern California; Patuxent River Naval Air Station in Maryland; and a forward operating location in support of Overseas Contingency Operations in the Persian Gulf.