PATUXENT RIVER, Md. (NNS) -- The first RQ-4A Global Hawk unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) slated for the Navy's Global Hawk Maritime Demonstration (GHMD) program made its first flight from Palmdale, Calif., to Edward's Air Force Base Oct. 6.
The mission lasted for approximately four hours and exercised the airframe, guidance system and powerplant.
This is the first of two RQ-4A aircraft the Navy is acquiring as part of the GHMD program. The GHMD program is intended to develop maritime UAV tactics and operating procedures. Lessons learned from GHMD will be applied to future naval UAV systems. This system will provide the Navy with an enduring testbed to evaluate new technologies; to support fleet experiments and exercises; and to provide a contingency operational capability to support deployed Navy and Marine Corps forces.
"This flight marks an important step for the Navy's unmanned air vehicle programs and Naval aviation," said Capt. Dennis Sorensen, Navy UAV program manager. "For the first time, the Navy will have an unmanned system that can support the fleet from nearly anywhere it operates. The lessons to be learned from this program will benchmark future intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance practices for the maritime environment. Congratulations to the Navy, Air Force and Northrop Grumman contractor team for a job well done."
The basic RQ-4A Global Hawk UAV, manufactured for the U.S. Air Force by Northrop-Grumman, is the largest and most advanced UAV in the American military. The Global Hawk is 44 feet long, has a 116-foot wingspan and weighs 25,600 lbs. Operating altitudes are in excess of 60,000 feet, and endurance is in excess of 30 hours.
The Navy Global Hawks are designed with features specifically tailored to maritime missions, including new radar modes for detecting and identifying ships at sea, as well as passive sensors capable of picking up hostile radars. The ground stations are also modified, adding displays and controls needed to allow operators to analyze sensor information in real time and without external assistance.
The Global Hawk Maritime Demonstration system will be operated and maintained at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Md., with the first delivery scheduled for the summer of 2005. Although based at Patuxent River, the system will be moved/deployed to other locations to support exercises or deployed contingency operations.
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