Northrop Grumman has won a contract for $79.4 million from the Air Force to supply three sophisticated radar units destined for RQ-4 Global Hawk unmanned aerial vehicles, the company announced April 22. Under the terms of the contract, which was originally let March 10 for $73.6 million and has since been bolstered by an additional 5.8 million in funds for long-lead items, the company will deliver three multi-platform radar technology insertion program radars for Global Hawk airframes that will be built under a forthcoming lot 7 of the aircraft’s production. “This is an important milestone in our effort to bring this new capability to our men and women in uniform,” said Jerry Madigan, Northrop Grumman vice president of HALE systems. The MP-RTIP sensor is a powerful active electronically scanned array radar system that Northrop Grumman is developing with Raytheon. It will enable Global Hawk aircraft to provide detailed synthetic aperture radar images from more than 60,000 feet up as well as track moving ground targets with high fidelity. The Air Force’s current plans call for equipping 15 of its 54 Global Hawks with the sensor. Aircraft in this configuration, expected to enter the fleet around 2011, will be designated Block 40 air vehicles. Unlike the other RQ-4 blocks, these airframes will not host a suite of other surveillance cameras or electronic listening devices, just the powerful radar. The first flight of a Global Hawk with the MP-RTIP sensor is scheduled in early 2009. Already the sensor has flown in tests on a surrogate aircraft.
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.