Wednesday, April 21, 2010

RQ-4 Global Hawk Enterprise High-Altitude, Long-Endurance Unmanned Aircraft Systems

Global Hawk - Singapore Air Show

The family of high-flying Global Hawks builds on the common RQ-4 high-altitude, long-endurance (HALE) unmanned aircraft system (UAS). 

When equipped with a variety of available mission-specific sensors, they provide intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) information over a vast geographic area without putting anyone in harm’s way. 

Global Hawk missions are to provide a broad spectrum of ISR collection capability to support joint combatant forces in worldwide peacetime, contingency and wartime operations. 

The systems can also be used for various civil and commercial missions such as border patrol, port surveillance, hurricane monitoring, disaster relief support, and high-altitude scientific research. 

The systems complement manned and space reconnaissance systems by providing near-real-time coverage using imagery intelligence (IMINT) sensors, signals intelligence (SIGINT), and communications relay capability.

Current RQ-4 Programs:

Global Hawk (U.S. Air Force)
A combat-proven HALE UAS with extraordinary ISR capabilities, providing near-real-time high resolution imagery of large geographical areas all day and night in all types of weather. During its trials with the Air Force's 31st Test and Evaluation Squadron and during its first deployment in Operation Enduring Freedom, the Global Hawk system was shown to be flexible and dynamically re-taskable. Global Hawk media gallery.

GHMD (U.S. Navy)
The U.S. Navy procured two Block 10 Global Hawks for the Global Hawk Maritime Demonstration (GHMD) program from the U.S. Air Force, and is using them to help define concept of operations for maritime surveillance, as well as for sensor technology experimentation and fleet orientation exercises. GHMD media gallery.

Euro Hawk® (Germany)
First international version of the Global Hawk UAS for the German Ministry of Defence. The Euro Hawk® is a derivative of the Block 20 Global Hawk, equipped with new SIGINT mission system developed by EADS. The SIGINT system provides stand-off capability to detect electronic intelligence (ELINT) and communications intelligence (COMINT) radar emitters. EADS will also provide the ground stations that will receive and analyze the data from Euro Hawk® as part of an integrated system solution.

NASA Global Hawk (NASA Dryden)
Partnership between NASA Dryden and Northrop Grumman to demonstrate HALE capability for future customers and experiments for the environmental science community to include NOAA, NASA, Department of Energy, and universities. Northrop Grumman will share in use of the aircraft to conduct its own flight demonstrations for expanded markets, missions and airborne capabilities, including UAS integration into national airspace.

NATO AGS (U.S. and allied nations)
After many years exploring options for a NATO owned and operated airborne ground surveillance capability, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) has agreed to a program of record based on the Block 40 Global Hawk with an MP-RTIP sensor. In September 2007, nations agreed to move forward with a UAS-only solution based on an off-the-shelf Block 40. Northrop Grumman will be the prime contractor for the NATO AGS program, supported by industries in the 15 participating nations. NATO AGS media gallery.


Global Hawk has its origins in the 1995 High-Altitude Endurance Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Advanced Concept Technology Demonstration (HAE UAV ACTD) program initiated by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and Defense Airborne Reconnaissance Office (DARO). The Global Hawk effort succeeded because it focused on the design and construction of a practical air vehicle that was developmentally mature enough to be transitioned into an operational weapons system. While still a developmental system, the Global Hawk system began supporting overseas contingency operations only two months after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, with thousands of combat hours and missions completed thus far.

Global Hawk has achieved several distinctions and awards, including setting an endurance record for a full-scale, operational unmanned aircraft on March 22, 2008, when it completed a flight of 33.1 hours at altitudes up to 60,000 feet over Edwards Air Force Base, Calif. It also set another aviation record on April 23, 2001, when it landed in Australia at 8:40 p.m. local time after a 23-hour, 20-minute trip across the Pacific Ocean. This nonstop flight from Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., marks the first time that an unmanned, powered aircraft crossed the world's largest ocean.

In 2001, Northrop Grumman along with key government and industry partners received the coveted Robert J. Collier Trophy for designing, building, testing, and operating Global Hawk. In addition, Global Hawk is the first UAS to achieve a military airworthiness certification, which along with the certificate of authorization from the Federal Aviation Administration, recognizes Global Hawk's ability to routinely fly within national airspace.

The Global Hawk system consists of the RQ-4 aircraft, mission control element (MCE), launch and recovery element (LRE), sensors, communication links, support element, and trained personnel. They offer a wide variety of employment options. 

Cruising at extremely high altitudes above 60,000 feet for more than 32 hours at a time, the aircraft can survey large geographic areas with pinpoint accuracy, giving military decision-makers near-real-time information regarding enemy location, resources, and personnel.

The Block 10 configurations carry the IMINT sensors, which include synthetic aperture radar, electro-optical and medium-wave infrared sensors. The Block 20 versions carry an enhanced integrated sensor suite similar to the Block 10 but provides longer range and better resolution. 

The Block 30 carries the Block 20 imagery sensors as well as the airborne signals intelligence payload, while the newest version, Block 40, carries the Multi-Platform Radar Technology Insertion Program (MP-RTIP) active electronically scanned array radar.

The MCE serves as the RQ-4 cockpit during the operational portion of the mission with a pilot and sensor operator crew. Command and control data links provide RQ-4 crews complete dynamic control of the aircraft. 

The pilot workstations in the MCE and LRE act as the cockpit on the ground for the pilot to control and display platform status transmitted from the aircraft via the command and control link (health and status of the aircraft, sensors, navigational systems, and communication links). 

From this station, the pilot communicates with outside entities to coordinate the mission (air traffic control, airborne controllers, ground controllers, other ISR assets, etc.). When necessary the pilot can land the aircraft at any location provided in the aircraft mission plan. 

The sensor operator workstation manually provides the capability to dynamically update the collection plan, monitor sensor status, initiate sensor calibration and process, distribute, and store data. The sensor operator provides quality control of images on selected targets of high interest (ad hoc, dynamic targets, etc.).

Unlike all other unmanned aircraft, Global Hawk is flown autonomously by flight control software under the direct supervision of a pilot. The pilot does not physically manipulate the control surfaces in flight but instead, he commands the computer to take action when needed, or the system can be left alone and fly a complete preprogrammed mission. 

Takeoff and landing are software controlled and poor weather is not a limiting factor for operation like it is for other unmanned systems. The pilot and crew can focus on executing the national security intelligence collection mission, collecting thousands of pixels full of critical security intelligence, while the aircraft is flown by the sophisticated flight control computer.

The Block 20/30/40 version represents a significant increase in capability over the Block 10 configuration. The larger Block 20/30/40 aircraft can carry up to 3,000 pounds of internal payload and operates with two-and-a-half times the power of its predecessor. 

Its open system architecture, a so-called "plug-and-play" environment, can accommodate new sensors and communication systems as they are developed to help military customers quickly evaluate and adopt new technologies.

When fully fueled for flight, the Block 20/30/40 weighs approximately 32,250 pounds. More than half the system's components are constructed of lightweight, high-strength composite materials, including its wings, wing fairings, empennage, engine cover, nacelles, and three radomes. Its main fuselage is standard aluminum, semi-monocoque construction.

Block 10
Wingspan: 116.2 ft (35.4 m) 
Length: 44.4 ft (13.5 m) 
Height: 14.6 ft (4.2 m) 
Gross Takeoff Weight: 26,700 lbs (12,110.9 kg) 
Maximum Altitude: 65,000 ft (19.8 km) 
Payload: 2,000 lbs (907.2 kg) 
Ferry Range: 12,000 nm (22,236 km) 
Loiter Velocity: 343 knots TAS (True Air Speed)
On-Station Endurance at 1,200 nm: 24 hours 
Maximum Endurance: 32+ hours

Block 20/30/40
Wingspan: 130.9 ft (39.9 m) 
Length: 47.6 ft (14.5m) 
Height: 15.4 ft (4.7 m) 
Gross Takeoff Weight: 32,250 lbs (14,628 kg) 
Maximum Altitude: 60,000 ft (18.3 km) 
Payload: 3,000 lbs (1,360 kg) 
Ferry Range: 12,300 nm (22,780 km) 
Loiter Velocity: 310 knots TAS (True Air Speed)
On-Station Endurance at 1,200 nm: 24 hours 
Maximum Endurance: 32+ hours

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