$302.9M to Northrop Grumman for 5 USAF RQ-4 Global Hawks
The RQ-4 Global Hawk unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) have provided invaluable intelligence to US troops in the field in Iraq and Afghanistan over the years.
In its first year of use in Afghanistan, the RQ-4 provided [pdf] more than 17,000 high-resolution images, flying more than 60 missions and over 1,200 combat hours. In Iraq, the system flew only 5% of the US Air Force’s high altitude reconnaissance sorties, but accounted for more than 55% of the time-sensitive targeting imagery generated to support strike missions.
To maintain a fresh supply of Global Hawks, the Air Force is ordering 2 Block 30 RQ-4s and 3 next-generation Block 40 RQ-4s from Northrop Grumman for $302.9 million.
Under the Lot 7 production contract, Northrop Grumman will build 2 Block 30 systems and 3 Block 40 systems for the 303d Aeronautical Systems Group at Wright Patterson AFB in Dayton, OH, which manages the RQ-4 program for the Air Force.
The award also includes a ground station with launch and recovery and mission control elements, plus 2 additional sensor suites that will be retrofitted into previous production aircraft.
In 2010, the company will deliver 2 Block 30 aircraft equipped with the Enhanced Integrated Sensor Suite (EISS) that provides electro-optical/infrared and synthetic aperture radar imaging capabilities. These aircraft will also be retrofitted to incorporate the production Airborne Signals Intelligence Payload (ASIP) for high and low band electronic signals collection.
The Lot 7 contract also includes the 1st production Multi-Platform Radar Technology Insertion Program (MP-RTIP) payloads, which will be contractually awarded later this year. The MP-RTIP is an advanced air-to-surface/ air-to-air radar system on the Block 40 RQ-4. The company will also deliver two EISS suites for use on aircraft delivered earlier. The contract runs through 2011.
Global Hawk can fly at altitudes of more than 60,000 feet for more than 32 hours and send imagery and signals intelligence data to US air, ground, and sea forces.
Global Hawks are currently flown in 4 locations: 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 Iraq and Afghanistan.