Global Hawk, Bigger and Better

Northrop Grumman is about to complete construction of the next-generation Global Hawk unmanned aerial vehicle. The company said it received the last of two critical airframe components—a graphite-composite wing assembly and the first set of its vertical tails—keeping the program on track for flight test in Fall 2006. The new Global Hawk RQ-4B will have 50 percent more payload capacity than the current model, meaning it can carry more intelligence sensors. The fuselage is stronger, four feet longer, and slightly taller than the A model. The wingspan increased by some 15 feet, giving the B more fuel capacity, as well.