Block Solid Delivery

Northrop Grumman delivered an RQ-4 Block 40 Global Hawk to Grand Forks AFB, N. D., ahead of schedule and on budget, the company announced last week. “Delivering Global Hawk to our Air Force partners early is a good indicator of our solid performance,” said company RQ-4 Program Director Mick Jaggers. The Block 40 variant, which is equipped with specialized active electronically scanned array radar, is tasked with tracking ground moving targets and terrain surveillance. The airframe delivered to Grand Forks on Feb. 14 completed the Lot 10 production contract. The Air Force currently operates 32 Global Hawk airframes in a variety of configurations and Northrop Grumman is anticipating a Lot 11 contract for three more airframes this summer, according to the release. The RQ-4’s hourly operating cost has been cut by nearly 30 percent since 2012, according to the company. The Air Force’s Fiscal 2015 took an about-face, proposing divesture of the entire U-2 spyplane fleet instead of the Global Hawk Block 30 fleet. Air Force officials have cited a decline in Global Hawk operating costs as the reason for the change. (See also Global Hawk, Ready or Not.)