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 current Global Hawk enterprise is made up of four complementary systems, or Blocks. Block 10, the initial airframe after the DARPA technology demonstration, was deployed overseas shortly after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks and quickly proved its usefulness. Block 20, the first production version, was unveiled in August 2006. Block 30 adds critical signals intelligence (SIGINT) capability to the Global Hawk family. And Block 40, currently in the final development stages, will provide revolutionary new capabilities with the Multi-Platform Radar Technology Insertion Program (MP-RTIP) active electronically scanned array radar. 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 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. In September of 2013, Global Hawk surpassed over 100,000 total flight hours, 75% of which were performed in combat.



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.
  • 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 (Block 30 and Block 40)

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