The US Air Force RQ-4 Global Hawk and other variants of Northrop Grumman Corporation's (NGC) High Altitude Long Endurance (HALE) Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) series have set a record by flying more intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) mission hours in one week than ever before.
The UAS series flew 781 hours from 10-16 September 2014. The Air Force’s RQ-4 Global Hawk flew 87% of the missions; the U.S. Navy’s Broad Area Maritime Surveillance- Demonstration (BAMS-D) aircraft and NASA's Global Hawk hurricane research asset flew the rest.
HALE's far-reaching weekly record surpasses the company's previous weekly flight record of 665 hours set in February.
“There are at least two Global Hawks in the air at all times providing indispensable ISR information to those that need it”, Mick Jaggers, Global Hawk UAS Program Director Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems told Al Defaiya.
“The 2014 fiscal year was the most active yet for the Global Hawk, with a 40% year over year increase in flight hours”, Jaggers added.
Northrop Grumman delivered two new RQ-4 Global Hawk aircraft to the Air Force within weeks of the record. A wide area surveillance model arrived at Grand Forks Air Force Base, North Dakota, on Sept. 10 and Beale Air Force Base received a multi-INT model on October 3.
The increases in flight hours and size of the fleet will give combatant commanders more ISR capabilities at a time when demand often outstrips aircraft availability.
These latest RQ-4 Global Hawk models complete a four aircraft buy by the Air Force and brings the Air Force's total Global Hawk fleet to 33.
In August, the Air Force signed an agreement requesting three more Global Hawks. Those aircraft are scheduled for delivery in 2016 and 2017.
Northrop Grumman's HALE UAS series have exceeded more than 130,000 total flight hours. An average of 75% of flight hours are in support of combat/operational missions.