Le Bourget, France—Air Force, Navy, and NASA Global Hawk remotely piloted aircraft will achieve “convergence” in 2013 or 2014, Northrop Grumman’s Walt Kreitler told reporters at the Paris Air Show here Monday. That means their “core systems,” such as communications, ground support, sense-and-avoid gear, and de-icing capability, will be alike, he said. Kreitler, who works on the Navy’s Broad Area Maritime Surveillance version of the RPA, said the Air Force’s RQ-4 Global Hawk program has been a “38-airplane risk-reduction program” for BAMS. Now, technology developed for BAMS will flow back to the USAF version. However, the services have different needs so their aircraft will have some unique features. BAMS, expected to achieve initial operational capability in 2015, will have 360-degree capability in its electro-optical and infrared scanners. That’s something the USAF models currently lack. Northrop is the Global Hawk prime contractor.
Boeing’s receipt of the 10th lot contract award for the KC-46 Pegasus this week leaves just three lots left to complete the Air Force’s buy of the tanker, although a further buy of 75 additional aircraft as a “bridge” to the Next-Generation Aerial-refueling System (NGAS) seems increasingly likely.