An RQ-4 Global Hawk Block 40 remotely piloted aircraft recently left Grand Forks AFB, N.D., on the first combat deployment for this Global Hawk variant, according to base officials. “Although Global Hawks have been supporting our warfighters in Afghanistan and elsewhere for more than a decade, this is the first time this specific model has been deployed into war,” said Col. Lawrence Spinetta, commander of Grand Forks’ 69th Reconnaissance Group, which operates Block 40s. The flight took place on Sept. 19, according to Grand Forks’ Nov. 20 release. The Block 40 variant features the MP-RTIP sensor, an electronically scanned array radar that provides synthetic aperture radar imagery and ground moving target indication data. “The Block 40’s GMTI provides a much-needed capability for our troops overseas, allowing them to track vehicular movement of enemy forces in near-real time over large areas, regardless of weather,” said Spinetta. (Grand Forks report by SSgt. Luis Loza Gutierrez) (See also Global Hawk RPA Family Hits 100,000 Flight Hours.)
When the Air Force sets a new program baseline for the B-52 re-engining this fall, there will be “some” cost increase, because the project wasn't previously fully funded, and the Air Force has a better handle on actual supplier costs and knowledge from ground testing, program officials said.