Northrop Grumman recently delivered two newly constructed RQ-4 Global Hawk remotely piloted aircraft to the Air Force, bringing the service’s RQ-4 fleet to 37 airframes, announced the company on Monday. The company supplied the most recent duo ahead of schedule in late November, according to Northrop Grumman’s Jan. 7 release. One of the vehicles was a Block 30 variant, while the other was a Block 40 vehicle, company spokesman Warren Comer told the Daily Report. The Block 30 is configured to carry electro-optical and infrared sensors, along with a radar and electronic eavesdropping equipment. The Block 40 is built to house the MP-RTIP advanced electronically scanned array radar. In all in 2012, Northrop Grumman said it handed over three RQ-4s to the Air Force: two Block 30s and one Block 40. Last year, Northrop Grumman also completed installation of sensor suites on five Global Hawk air vehicles that were already in service with the Air Force, states the release. This included a Block 20 airframe, now designated an EQ-4B, delivered in September with the Battlefield Airborne Communication Node payload to relay tactical communications between air and ground assets. (See also Proposed Global Hawk Block 30 Cuts Nixed and Global Hawk Trimmed.)
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.