$143M for Global Hawk Cost Overruns
Northrop Grumman Systems Corp. in San Diego, CA is being awarded a $143 million contract modification to provide for contract price increases and funding to account for the long-range Global Hawk UAV’s Engineering & Manufacturing Development overrun. The unmanned RQ-4A Global Hawk has been rushed into service as part of the Global War on Terror. The Aeronautical Systems Center, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, issued the contract (F33657-01-C-4600, P00090).
According to GT Aeronautics’ Remotely Piloted Industry News, the Global Hawk’s original cost estimates of $275 million has mostly escalated due to design changes in the airframe, including the wing. The cost increase has caused the Pentagon to place a hold on almost $400 million in funding this year while the Air Force figures out a fix for the cost overun.
RQ-4A Global Hawks unit costs ran as high as $75 million per aircraft at one time, but have since been reduced to approximately $35 million. Northrop has delivered five out of seven RQ-4As to the Air Force, with the final two nearing completion and delivery. The Navy is also slated to receive two RQ-4As this year for maritime demonstrations. The Global Hawk earned high praises by combat commanders during the post 9/11 environment and OEF.
The RQ-4B is a stretched version of the original RQ-4A Global Hawk airframe, with a fuselage that is 3 feet longer, an increased wingspan of 15 feet and a more powerful engine. The increase in size and power provides for a 3,000 pound payload capacity versus the RQ-4A’s 2,000 pound capacity. The RQ-4B will also have more electrical power and will feature more advanced sensors, including a new radar built by Northrop Grumman and Raytheon designed to find moving targets on the ground.
The Global Hawk industry team includes:
- Northrop Grumman in San Diego, CA: Prime contractor
- Aurora Flight Sciences in Bridgeport, WVA: V-Tail assembly and other composite structures
- L-3 Communications West in Salt Lake City, UT: Communication system
- Raytheon Space & Airborne Systems in El Segundo, CA: Integrated sensor suite
- Raytheon Intelligence & Information Systems in Falls Church, VA: Ground station
- Rolls-Royce Corporation in Indianapolis, IN: Engine
- Vought Aircraft Industries in Dallas, TX: Wings