RQ-4 Block 10 Global Hawk

global Hawk Block 10

Program Overview

The Northrop Grumman RQ-4 Block 10 Global Hawk is currently supporting the U.S. Air Force in the global war on terrorism. During 2006, two air systems logged more than 8,000 combat hours conducting intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions. The Global Hawks are operated overseas by USAF pilots from a mission control element stationed at Beale Air Force Base in Northern California. A launch and recovery element and a combined USAF and Northrop Grumman team are forward deployed with the air systems. The Global Hawk is equipped with electro-optical, infrared and synthetic aperture radar sensors to provide high-quality real-time imagery.


Few aircraft have shown such utility and deployment capability so early in flight testing. Global Hawk's autonomous high-altitude, long-endurance (HALE) flight characteristics are proven. The air vehicle flies at altitudes up to 65,000 feet for up to 35 hours at speeds approaching 340 knots. It can image an area the size of the state of Illinois in just one mission. During its trials with the Air Force's 31st Test and Evaluation Squadron and during its first deployment in Operation Enduring Freedom, the Global Hawk system was shown to be flexible and dynamically re-taskable.

Global Hawk Maritime Demonstration

Two Block 10 Global Hawks are currently being used in the U.S. Navy's Global Hawk Maritime Demonstration (GHMD) program. Stationed at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Md., the air systems are being used to help define the concept of operations for maritime surveillance. The GHMD has participated in naval exercises including Trident Warrior '05, Rimpac '06, and the congressionally directed demonstration.

Historical Program Objectives

Global Hawk has its origins in the 1995 High-Altitude Endurance Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Advanced Concept Technology Demonstrator (HAE UAV ACTD) program initiated by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and 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.