Global Hawk

High-Altitude, Long-Endurance Unmanned Aircraft Systems
Global Hawk

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. The Air Force Global Hawk evolved from DARPA technology and was deployed overseas shortly after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. Today, the active Global Hawk enterprise is made up of three complimentary systems. The Global Hawk Comms Gateway was unveiled in 2006 and operates the Battlefield Airborne Communications Node (BACN), a communications system that receives, bridges, and distributes information among all participants in a battle. The Global Hawk Multi-INT is important for situation awareness and intelligence across huge areas of land and carries the sensor systems EISS (Enhanced Integrated Sensor Suite) and ASIP (Airborne Signals Intelligence Payload). The Global Hawk Wide Area Surveillance carries the Multi-Platform Radar Technology Insertion Program (MP-RTIP), which provides game-changing situational awareness and targeting information on both fixed and moving targets. The original Global Hawk model is now flown on scientific research missions by NASA.

Background:

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 the 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 September 11, 2001 attacks. The system has surpassed 125,000 flight hours and midway through 2014 had 100,000 combat/operational flight hours.

Distinctions:

World Records
  • April 23, 2001: Global Hawk became the first unmanned, powered aircraft to cross the world's largest ocean when it landed in Australia at 8:40 p.m. local time after a 23-hour, 20-minute trip across the Pacific Ocean.
  • March 29, 2013: Global Hawk set the endurance record for a full-scale, operational unmanned aircraft when it completed a 34.3 hour flight at altitudes up to 60,000 feet based out of Grand Forks Air Force Base in North Dakota. The pilots and crew were all women, which all set a record for the longest all-female Global Hawk flight.
Awards
  • Dr. James G. Roche Sustainment Excellence Award: The Global Hawk program received this prestigious award from the U.S. Air Force for demonstrating the most improved performance in aircraft maintenance and logistics readiness in fiscal years 2012 and 2013. Global Hawk showed significant improvements in aircraft availability, mission capability and total non-mission capability for maintenance and supply.
  • U.S. Air Force Safety Record: Global Hawk has been designated as the platform with the best safety record in the U.S. Air Force in 2013.
  • Robert J. Collier Trophy: In 2000, Northrop Grumman along with key government and industry partners received this coveted trophy for designing, building, testing, and operating Global Hawk.
  • Airworthiness Certification: 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.

Specifications (Multi-INT and Wide Area Surveillance models)

Wingspan: 130.9 ft (39.9 m)
Length: 47.6 ft (14.5m)
Height: 15.4 ft (4.7 m)
Gross Take-off 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 True Air Speed (TAS)
On-station Endurance at 1,200 nm: 24 hrs
Maximum Endurance: 32+hrs