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20 novembre 2013 3 20 /11 /novembre /2013 17:20
US Air Force Drops Sensor Improvements on New Global Hawks

Airmen work on an RQ-4 Global Hawk after it returned to Beale Air Force Base, Calif. The US Air Force has decided not to pursue an adapter that would improve the Block 30's sensor suite. (US Air Force)


Nov. 20, 2013 - By BRIAN EVERSTINE – Defense news


The US Air Force will not buy a “universal payload adapter” to attach sensors from the U-2 to a variant of the unmanned RQ-4 Global Hawk, another sign that the service is not interested in keeping the brand-new planes in the sky.


The Block 30 variant of the Global Hawk, a massive unmanned aircraft designed for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, has been repeatedly targeted for cuts by the Air Force. The service planned to move the aircraft straight from the production line to the boneyard in 2013, but that move was blocked by Congress.


The Block 30’s sensor suite is not as capable as the U-2, and Global Hawk builder Northrop Grumman has been designing an adapter to attach the superior system to the unmanned aircraft. The Air Force, however, does not intend to use the adapter, said Maj. Ryan Simms, the chief of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance and remotely pilot aircraft policy in the headquarters Air Force executive action group.


Northrop Grumman officials said earlier this year that they are working through internal research and development on the adapter. Tom Vice, head of Northrop’s Aerospace Systems sector, told reporters in August that it was a “mature technology.”


The Air Force called the adapter “feasible,” and said it would cost about $487 million. It would take three years to develop and test, followed by another two years of production, according to an April report sent to congressional defense committees.


The adapter would attach the Optical Bar Camera or Senior Year Electro-Optical Reconnaissance System-2b sensors, in addition to Airborne Signals Intelligence Payload.


Simms told Air Force Times on Tuesday that budget restrictions will prevent the service from moving forward with the adapter.


Despite their uncertain future, Block 30s are currently flying humanitarian aid and military missions, Simms said. One Global Hawk in the Philippines has flown 50 hours and taken 300 pictures, he said.

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27 janvier 2012 5 27 /01 /janvier /2012 08:55
DoD cuts RQ-4 Blk 30, spares other UAVs

Jan 26, 2012 by Zach Rosenberg – Flight Global

Washington DC - Northrop Grumman projects advance despite a budget cut to one of the company's highest-profile programmes. The RQ-4 Global Hawk Block 30 will be cut, according to media reports. The aged Lockheed Martin U-2, which the Block 30 is intended to replace, will continue to fly for the foreseeable future. Fourteen Block 30s aircraft have been delivered, with the government committed to another seven aircraft. The total inventory will effectively be capped at 21 aircraft, a cut of 10 from the most recently-provided total.

"The Block 30 priced itself out of the niche for taking pictures from the air," said Ashton Carter, under secretary of defense of acquisition, technology and logistics. "That's the fate of things that become too expensive in a resource-constrained environment."

The project has twice breached the Nunn-McCurdy Act, requiring justification if a programme is more than 25% over budget, and has received mixed reviews in official evaluations.

Another variant of the troubled Global Hawk programme, the Block 40, of which the Air Force has ordered 11, will continue unabated. The Navy's MQ-4C broad area maritime surveillance (BAMS) variant, similar in configuration to the Block 30, will also continue.

The General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Predator series of systems, including the MQ-1B Predator, MQ-9A Reaper and MQ-1C Gray Eagle, were spared major changes. The DoD will continue with plans to procure 65 combat air patrols (CAP) of Reapers, with each system comprised of four aircraft a piece. The Air Force will be able to surge to 85 CAPs, though details of where the aircraft will come from were not immediately available.

Northrop released a statement saying the company was "disappointed with the Pentagon's decision, and plans to work with the Pentagon to assess alternatives to program termination."

Despite the setback, Northrop continues to advance BAMS and other programmes. The multi-function active sensor (MFAS) radar made its first flight, and there are no intentions of delaying the aircraft buy. The first aircraft is under construction, scheduled for first flight in the second quarter of 2012.

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27 janvier 2012 5 27 /01 /janvier /2012 08:05
Northrop Grumman Statement on the Global Hawk Block 30 Program

FALLS CHURCH, Va. -- Jan. 26, 2012 – Northrop Grumman Corporation

Northrop Grumman Corporation has released the following statement on the Global Hawk Block 30 program:

    "The Pentagon announced today that it is planning to cancel the Global Hawk Block 30 program and plans to perform this mission with the U-2 aircraft. Northrop Grumman is disappointed with the Pentagon's decision, and plans to work with the Pentagon to assess alternatives to program termination.

    "The Global Hawk program has demonstrated its utility in U.S. military operations in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya, as well as its utility in humanitarian operations in Japan and Haiti. Just a few months ago, the Pentagon published an acquisition decision memorandum regarding Global Hawk Block 30 that stated: 'The continuation of the program is essential to the national security… there are no alternatives to the program which will provide acceptable capability to meet the joint military requirement at less cost.'

    "Global Hawk is the modern solution to providing surveillance. It provides long duration persistent surveillance, and collects information using multiple sensors on the platform. In contrast, the aging U-2 program, first introduced in the 1950s, places pilots in danger, has limited flight duration, and provides limited sensor capacity. Extending the U-2's service life also represents additional investment requirements for that program.

    "Northrop Grumman is committed to working with our customers to provide the best solutions for our country and our allies. We are pleased with the continuing support for the Global Hawk Block 40 system, as well as for the Navy's Broad Area Maritime Surveillance system and our other unmanned systems."

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