A Very Large Cruise Missile

There have been many discussions over the years about arming or “weaponizing” the RQ-4 Global Hawk reconnaissance aircraft or its Navy counterpart, the Broad Area Maritime Surveillance platform, but it likely won’t happen, Northrop Grumman BAMS vice president Steve Enewold said Tuesday. Speaking at a press conference in Washington, D.C., Enewold said because of its vast range, putting weapons on a Global Hawk would run afoul of weapons treaties that would classify the system as a cruise missile—and one with the ability to hit various aimpoints. For the moment, Enewold said, the advantages conferred by the Global Hawk’s various sensors are deemed more important than shortening the kill chain a step by giving it something to shoot with. Arming Global Hawk would likely complicate counting of weapons in several categories, something USAF and the Navy don’t want to do.