Global Hawk Block 40 Work Advances:

Northrop Grumman is proceeding with plans to integrate the multi-platform radar technology insertion program (MP-RTIP) radar onto Global Hawk unmanned aerial vehicles that are destined for basing next decade at Grand Forks, AFB, N.D., a senior company official said yesterday. While not quite the same radar capability as flown on the E-8 Joint STARS, the advanced electronically scanned array MP-RTIP system will allow these Global Hawk Block 40 aircraft to track targets dynamically with its powerful high-resolution image capabilities, Ed Walby, director of business development for the company’s UAV division, told reporters during a Feb. 21 briefing at AFA’s Air Warfare Symposium in Orlando. In the Global Hawk fleet, only Block 40 aircraft will carry the MP-RTIP. And unlike Global Hawk Block 10, Block 20, and Block 30 variants, which hold several types of sensors, Block 40s will have only the radar onboard, Walby said. Due to be fielded around Fiscal 2011, Block 40 aircraft will be based out of Grand Forks, while the Air Force consolidates other blocks at Beale AFB, Calif., he said. USAF’s current program of record is for 54 Global Hawks, of which 15 are planned as Block 40s. Walby said the Block 20 aircraft is due to fly into combat in Fiscal 2009. USAF currently operates Block 10 Global Hawks out of Southwest Asia. Pre-Block 10 prototype models that first flew in 2001 over Afghanistan are no longer in combat, he said. The Air Force is entering the flight test phase of the Block 30 variant, which features a sophisticated signals intelligence payload, in addition to electro-optical and infrared cameras and a synthetic aperture radar like those carried on the earlier models.