SIGINT Hawk Package on the Way:

The Block 20 Global Hawks—airframes AF-8 through AF-12—are under construction and recently completed wing strength testing at Northrop Grumman’s Dallas facility where the aircraft’s wing held fast at up to 130 percent of the Global Hawk’s full weight, validating the design with better than expected results, said George Guerra, Northrop Grumman’s Air Force Global Hawk program director. The company is also beginning to assemble the first Signals Intelligence Global Hawk—the AF-14 airframe—which will feature open system architecture and some advanced SIGINT sensors. The aircraft will feature a package known as the Advanced Signals Intelligence Program that will combine both high-band and low-band sensor packages that can be plugged in to all Global Hawk architecture in the Block 30 models and beyond, Guerra told reporters at AFA’s Washington conference Monday. Guerra and Ed Walby, Northrop’s head of high altitude long endurance system business development, noted that recent exercises have demonstrated some amazing advances in imagery capabilities and Global Hawk’s capabilities and sensor suites will only improve with time. Walby said, “These were some of the best images I’ve ever seen from 60,000 feet.”