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Global Hawk Variants Surpass 100,000 Combat/Operational Support Hours

 

Northrop Grumman announced Aug. 27 that two U.S. Air Force and U.S. Navy Global Hawk and Triton high altitude long endurance (HALE) series unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) safely surpassed 100,000 combat/operational support hours.

The unmanned aircraft systems actually surpassed 100,000 total hours in September 2013, but combat/operational support hours are tallied separately from noncombat support hours.

The Air Force Global Hawk fleet logged more than 88 percent of the global intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) information-gathering and airborne communications mission, according to a Northrop Grumman release. The Navy’s MQ-4C Triton Broad Area Maritime Surveillance Demonstrator flew the remaining hours. The unmanned aircraft systems actually surpassed 100,000 total hours in September 2013, but combat/operational support hours are tallied separately from noncombat support hours.

Triton

An MQ-4C Triton unmanned aircraft system makes its approach for landing March 13, 2014, at Palmdale, California, marking the conclusion of initial flight testing. Northrop Grumman photo by Alan Radecki

“Global Hawk has continuously and successfully supported overseas contingency operations since its first deployment to Afghanistan after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks,” said Jim Culmo, vice president, HALE Enterprise, Northrop Grumman. “Operating 11 miles above danger zones, Global Hawk is a strategic airborne asset with unprecedented endurance, range and persistence providing decision makers near real-time information from around the world.”

Global Hawk ISR missions support six combatant commands and have included contingency missions in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Nigeria, according to Northrop Grumman. Global Hawk variants carry a variety of ISR sensor payloads that allow military commanders to gather near real-time imagery and use radar to detect moving or stationary targets on the ground. The system can also provide airborne communications capabilities as “flying relay stations” to military units in harsh environments.