Getting the Correct Signal

Developmental flight-testing of the RQ-4 Global Hawk Block 30 unmanned aerial vehicle is scheduled to commence next month at Edwards AFB, Calif. The first Block 30 aircraft arrived at Edwards in November. The Block 30 is the only variant of the Northrop Grumman-built RQ-4 that features the Airborne Signals Intelligence Payload in addition to a suite of electro-optical/infrared cameras and synthetic aperture radar such as those found on earlier Global Hawks. ASIP is designed to collect electronic emissions and communications signals in the battlespace. Testing during 2008 will be in four phases: ground testing, calibration testing, performance flight-testing, and operational assessment. The tests mark the first time that ASIP will be evaluated in conjunction with other sensor systems. The Air Force expects to field the Block 30 UAVs around 2012. (USAF report by SrA. Julius Delos Reyes)