Hard Act To Follow

The last of the Global Hawk RQ-4A unmanned aerial vehicles are rolling off the line now, and the B model is a full-production line, Northrop Grumman official Ed Walby told reporters Tuesday at the AFA conference. He had nothing but praise for the original model, considering the company sent it to war in Afghanistan and Iraq while it was still in development. “We have learned a lot from deployment,” said Walby. It will be hard to beat the 94 percent mission-effectiveness rate the A model posted, but the company believes it has. Walby says the slightly larger RQ-4B has just completed operational assessment flights, and ground operators were “extremely delighted” with the new sensor arrays—providing a 50 percent increase in range for the UAV’s infrared, optical, and synthetic aperture radar sensors.