achieved yet another milestone when its RQ-4 Global Hawk unmanned aircraft system
(UAS) completed a four-hour, round-trip mission, taking off from its Palmdale, CA-based manufacturing facility, reaching cruising altitudes of over 58,000 feet, and safely returning to land at the facility.
According to George Guerra, Northrop Grumman vice president of High-Altitude, Long-Endurance (HALE) systems, "This was the first time ever that the same Global Hawk has taken off and landed in a single mission from Palmdale, heralding a new era of flights in and out of the facility."
This mission marked the eighth consecutive production Global Hawk to complete its operational check flight on the first attempt.
The Global Hawk is fast becoming a prized unmanned system. The platform was recently used in the wake of the earthquakes in Haiti, where it provided over 3,600 images of affected areas.
According to Steve Amburgey, Global Hawk program director for the 303d Aeronautical Systems Group at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, "Logging more than 30,000 combat hours since its first deployment nine years ago, Global Hawk is a highly sought after intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance system in theater."