Northop Grumman‘s portfolio of unmanned aircraft systems achieved 100,000 combined flight hours on Sept. 9, 2013. The 100,000 hours were made in the 15 years since the Global Hawk completed its first flight on Feb. 28, 1998. The U.S. Air Force‘s comparatively geriatric Global Hawk accounted for more than 88 percent of the 100,000 flight hours. “U.S. Air Force Global Hawk is performing well and has contributed to the global intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance [ISR] mission, flying approximately 75 percent of its total flight hours in combat to support six combatant commands,” said Col. Carlin Heimann, Global Hawk system program director for the U.S. Air Force. The other 12 percent of the 100,000 flight hours mark for the company’s unmanned aircraft systems is made up of NASA Global Hawks, German Euro Hawks, the U.S. Navy‘s Broad Area Maritime Surveillance Demonstrator (BAMS-D), and more recently, the Navy’s MQ-4C Triton, which made its first flight May 22. “The 100,000-hour milestone is a tribute to a great team that has supported combat operations for more than a decade,” added Heimann.
Northrop Grumman Unmanned Aircraft Systems Achieve 100,000 Flight Hours l Photos
A Global Hawk flies over Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., on Feb. 28, 1998, during its first flight. Three years after its first flight, the Global Hawk carried out surveillance flights over Afghanistan. U.S. Department of Defense photo An RQ-4 Global Hawk soars through the skies enroute to record intelligence, surveillence and reconnaissance data. Because of its large coverage area, the Global Hawk has become a useful tool for recording data and sending it to warfighters on the ground. U.S. Air Force photo The aircraft carrier USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63), now decommissioned, is seen conducting a replenishment at sea with the Military Sealift Command fleet replenishment oiler USNS Guadalupe(T-AO-200) in this Global Hawk RQ-4A aerial photograph, July 17, 2008. The Global Hawk has provided aerial reconnaissance on battlefields in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya, and a variant is now being procured by the U.S. Navy as a maritime ISR platform. U.S. Department of Defense photo Northrop Grumman's fleet of high-altitude long-endurance unmanned aircraft surpassed the 100,000 flight hours mark Sept. 5, 2013. This marks a significant achievement for the combat-proven intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance system. Northrop Grumman photo Global Hawk allows military commanders to receive high-resolution imagery, survey vast geographic regions and pinpoint targets on the ground. Northrop Grumman photo by Alan Radecki Euro Hawk's first flight, June 29, 2010. The German Air Force ordered a variant of the Global Hawk, designated Euro Hawk. Northrop Grumman photo The Euro Hawk is the replacement for the now retired fleet of manned Breguet Atlantic aircraft, which were in service from 1972-2010. Northrop Grumman photo On Aug. 8, 2013, the Euro Hawk unmanned aircraft set an endurance record by flying 25.3 hours nonstop in European airspace. Cassidian photo by Josef Gietl In 2007, two Global Hawks were transferred by the U.S. Air Force to NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center for use in research activities. NASA photo by Carla Thomas The swirling circulation pattern of Tropical Storm Frank off the southwestern coast of Baja California was captured by Ames Research Center's HDVis camera mounted on the aft fuselage of NASA's Global Hawk unmanned research aircraft during a hurricane monitoring flight, Aug. 28, 2010. With its ability to stay on station for extended periods, the Global Hawk is an ideal hurricane monitoring platform. NASA photo A NASA King Air studies wake turbulence from a NASA Global Hawk prior to a Northrop Grumman aerial refueling demonstration with two unmanned Global Hawks. NASA photo by Jim Ross A RQ-4A Global Hawk unmanned aircraft takes off from the Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., runway March 27, 2006, for a one-way mission to Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Md. N-1 was the first of two Global Hawks delivered to the U.S. Navy in order to evaluate maritime surveillance capabilities. U.S. Air Force photo by Chad Bellay The Navy's Broad Area Maritime Surveillance-Demonstrator (BAMS-D) in flight over Patuxent River, Md., April 3, 2013. BAMS-D surpassed 10,000 flight hours April 1, marking another milestone for U.S. Navy unmanned aviation. BAMS-D has completed more than 412 sorties totaling more than 8,368 hours in support of combat operations. U.S. Navy photo by Erik Hildebrandt The Triton unmanned aircraft system completes its first flight May 22, 2013, from the Northrop Grumman manufacturing facility in Palmdale, Calif. The 80-minute flight successfully demonstrated control systems that allow Triton to operate autonomously. Triton is designed to fly surveillance missions up to 24-hours at altitudes of more than 10 miles, allowing coverage out to 2,000 nautical miles. The system's advanced suite of sensors can detect and automatically classify different types of ships. U.S. Navy photo courtesy of Northrop Grumman photo by Alex Evers The Triton unmanned aircraft system is a development of the Broad Area Maritime Surveillance (BAMS) program and is designed to serve as a complement to the Boeing P-8 Poseidon. U.S. Navy photo courtesy of Northrop Grumman by Bob Brown