THE 456th FIGHTER INTERCEPTOR SQUADRON

T PROTECTORS OF  S. A. C.

 

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COMING-OUT PARTY - Northrop Grumman employees stand at parade rest as the first production unit of the Air Force's RQ-4A Global Hawk is unveiled during a rollout ceremony held Friday at the company's hangar at Air Force Plant 42 in Palmdale. The futuristic-looking aircraft is a high-altitude, long-endurance, unmanned aerial reconnaissance system. 

EVELYN KRISTO/Valley Press

The Global Hawk

Rolls Off The Production Line

This story appeared in the Antelope Valley Press on Saturday, August 2, 2003.

By ALLISON GATLIN
Valley Press Staff Writer
 

PALMDALE - With a light show worthy of a rock concert, the latest star in the Air Force's arsenal was unveiled Friday with the rollout of the first production-model Global Hawk.

The Northrop Grumman hangar at Air Force Plant 42 was filled with dignitaries and employees to cheer the bulbous, grey-and-white unmanned vehicle.

Like the Wright Flyer did 100 years ago, "Global Hawk will lead the way in another revolution in aviation - unmanned systems," said Scott Seymour, corporate vice president and president, Northrop Grumman Integrated Systems.

The futuristic-looking aircraft is a high-altitude, long-endurance, unmanned aerial reconnaissance system designed to provide battlefield commanders with high-resolution, near-real-time imagery of large geographic areas. Operating autonomously, it is capable of flying to 65,000 feet with a range of 14,000 miles and a flight endurance of 40 hours.

While the craft unveiled Friday is the first production model, the Global Hawk has already proven its worth in operations over Afghanistan and Iraq using the developmental versions.

"It's the first production unit, and yet it's been in combat twice already," Seymour said.

Of the aircraft's 3,000 flight hours, half were logged during combat.

"Our experience in Operation Iraqi Freedom really validates the Air Force's confidence in the Global Hawk system," said Col. G. Scott Coale, Global Hawk program director.

One demonstrator was used to fly 3% of the intelligence imagining missions over Iraq, accounting for 55% of the time-sensitive targets identified, he said.

"This experience in Iraq really demonstrates the potential of Global Hawk to transform the way we do fighting," he said. "It really is an impressive accomplishment."

It is the first time a developmental aircraft has been used operationally, before the production version.

This allowed for "lessons learned" in real-world use to be incorporated in the production version, before it came off the assembly line.

"This is a tremendous opportunity," said Carl Johnson, Northrop Grumman vice president and Global Hawk program manager. "They (the Air Force) get to say what they want ahead of time."

Some of those modifications will be incorporated in the production aircraft during its stay in the test fleet at Edwards Air Force Base.

"What is really exciting in this program is we haven't even fielded this hardware, but we already have experience that we are incorporating," Coale said. "We'll be having a better system when we field it."

The aircraft will depart for Edwards later this month. After four to six months of testing, it will be delivered to the new operational squadron at Beale AFB, near Sacramento.

A second Global Hawk is expected to be delivered to the Air Force by the end of the year, with two more in late 2004 or early 2005.

Eventually, 50 of the planes will be produced for the Air Force.

While virtually identical to the concept demonstrators, the newest version is more robust than its predecessors with greater capabilities developed based on operational use. It also has the capability to support future changes to the sensors on board.

The production craft are also produced under more stringent oversight and with more standardized procedures than their developmental brethren, Johnson said.

Global Hawk is built by Northrop Grumman, with final assembly at its facility at Air Force Plant 42 in Palmdale, and has conducted flight test activities at Edwards Air Force Base since 1997.

Seven developmental Hawks were built and delivered to the test fleet at Edwards prior to the advent of the production model.

Three of these concept demonstrators have been lost, one during a test flight out of Edwards and two over Afghanistan.

The remaining four concept demonstrators will continue to be used for further developments to the system, as well as demonstrations for other uses.

The next milestone of Global Hawk production will be the introduction of the B-model.

This next version will be able to carry 3,000 pounds of payload, as opposed to the 2,000-pound capability of the A-model, and have a larger airframe, with the wingspan increased from 116 to 131 feet.

The first B-model - the 10th production craft overall - is expected to take its first flight sometime in late 2005.

Northrop Grumman also has a contract to produce two Hawks for the U.S. Navy. The U.S. Coast Guard is also looking at Global Hawk for its maritime surveillance duties.

Allies, such as Australia and Germany, have also expressed interest in the planes for their uses.

"This could potentially be a very major production program for the Antelope Valley," Johnson said.

Although the current Air Force contract calls for production of about seven aircraft a year, the manufacturing center is capable of producing up to 24 annually, he said.

 

 

RQ-4A Global Hawk  (Tier II+ HAE UAV)

 

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The Global Hawk (Tier II+) High-Altitude, Long-Endurance Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (HAE UAV) program is an Advanced Concept Technology Demonstration (ACTD) designed to satisfy the Defense Airborne Reconnaissance Office's (DARO) goal of providing extended reconnaissance capability to the Joint Force commander. Extended reconnaissance has been defined by the Director, DARO, MGen Kenneth Israel, as "the ability to supply responsive and sustained data from anywhere within enemy territory, day or night, regardless of weather, as the needs of the warfighter dictate." Two complementary HAE UAV systems are being developed under this program; a conventional design (Tier II Plus) and an Low Observable configuration (Tier III Minus).

The Broad Area Maritime Surveillance (BAMS) program is a new capability which will give shipboard control of both flight and payload via TCS. The aircraft would be based at Jacksonville, Florida, and four other locations. The data link for BAMS is expected to be TCDL (but is not planned to be compliant with Rev F of the CDL waveform specification and would not be network capable).

The Global Hawk UAV is optimized for high altitude, long range and endurance; it is to be capable of providing 28 hours of endurance while carrying 3,000 pounds of payload and operating at 65,000 feet mean sea level. The integrated sensor suite consists of SAR, EO, and IR sensors. Each of the sensors provides wide area search imagery and a high-resolution spot mode. The radar also has a ground moving target indicator mode.. During the development phase, scheduled to conclude 1QFY98, two vehicles, two sets of payloads, and a ground control station will be procured and field tested. Global Hawk's first flight was from Edwards Air Force Base, CA on 28 February 1998.

The HAE UAV will be capable of long dwell, broad area coverage, and continuous spot coverage of areas of interest with high resolution sensors. Global Hawk's 24-hour operationally persistent dwell will support persistently viewing and tracking targets like critical mobile targets. The Global Hawk is focused on the radar integrated into the system for all-weather, wide-area and spot capability that can provide high quality imagery with targeting accuracy.

The Global Hawk radar and EO/IR payload are carried simultaneously. Radar is capable of multiple modes -- SAR strip at one meter, SAR spot at a foot, GMTI mode down to four knots operating all at 20 to 200 kilometers range. The EO/IR payload provides NIIRS 6 or 5.5 depending on whether it's EO or IR. Global Hawk will integrate with the existing tactical airborne reconnaissance architectures for mission planning, data processing, exploitation, and dissemination. It will provide both wide area search radar and EO/IR imagery (40,000 sq nm per mission) at 1m resolution and up to 1900 spot images per mission at 0.3m resolution, and will support targeting accuracy of at least 20m CEP.

The Global Hawk UAV system comprises an air vehicle component with air vehicles, sensor payloads, avionics, and data links; a ground segment with a launch and recovery element (LRE); a mission control element (MCE) with embedded ground communications equipment; a support element; and trained personnel.

The ground segment consists of the MCE for mission planning, command and control, and image processing and dissemination; the LRE for controlling launch and recovery; and associated ground support equipment. By having separable elements in the ground segment, the MCE and the LRE can operate in geographically separate locations, and the MCE can be deployed with the supported command’s primary exploitation site. Both ground segments are contained in military shelters with external antennas for line-ofsight and satellite communications with the air vehicles.

The current mission and communications requirements for the Global Hawk UAV are well documented in the Global Hawk CONOPS and ORD and IMINT Annex, particularly in the Information Exchange Requirements portion of the ORD. The specific interoperability and connectivity requirements are called out. In general, they call for the SAR, EO/IR, and GMTI data to be transmitted simultaneously via line of sight (LOS) (CDL) and beyond line of sight (BLOS) (Ku band SATCOM) to CIGSS compliant imagery exploitation systems (IES). Whether the IESs were within line of sight determined the communications path to transmit data to them. The Spiral 1 IESs were the AF-DCGS, ETRAC/MIES, TES, TEG, JSIPS-N, and potentially other appropriately equipped IESs (such as a JIC or AOC). Future spirals called for interoperability and connectivity with JSTARS, AWACS, and potentially other appropriately equipped ISR and/or battle management platforms (such as ACS or the multi-mission aircraft (MMA)). Future spirals also call for sensor control from the IESs mentioned.

When linked with systems such as the Joint Deployable Intelligence Support System (JDISS) and the Global Command and Control System (GCCS), imagery may be transferred NRT to the operational commander for immediate use. HAE UAV data will be accessible for Indications and Warning (I&W), cueing, rapid strike/restrike tasking, combat assessment and further analys is up and down the chain of command within minutes of receipt.

When the RTIP program was restructured to become MP-RTIP, the sensor became part of the Global Hawk baseline program. That in itself would not have affected the Global Hawk?s communications requirements, however, two MP-RTIP associated factors will cause major perturbations in the Global Hawk?s CONOPS and requirements. The AESA radar implementation, while impacting SWAP and performance, allows for additional modes and employment flexibility of the SAR mission. This in itself will drive CONOPS and interoperability changes. The ISR portion of the JSTARS mission, which includes the CGSs as customers, has been levied on the Global Hawk. This mission brings with it many new customers for Global Hawk data (CGSs) that were not previously considered. It also will drive a change to Global Hawk CONOPS and interoperability requirements to satisfy these new customers. MP-CDL is a potential way to satisfy these new requirements.

The HAE UAV will strive for commonality with existing Command, Control, Communications, Computers, and Intelligence (C4I) architecture. Collected imagery will be transferred to theater designated exploitation sites utilizing standard formats through existing communications mediums. Selected frames of imagery and reports can be broadcast electronically by voice or data. The operational commander will determine the preferred means of dissemination and distribution.

The system is capable of both direct line of sight communications with the ground station by a common data link or beyond line of sight through Ku band SATCOM, direct line of sight capability, good support up to 274 megabits per second (although this is not currently supported) and 50 megabits per second by a Ku band SATCOM. In the future users detached from the ground station could directly receive imagery data from the Global Hawk.

Due to the quantities of CGS customers expected in a Global Hawk orbit area, a broadcast capability seems to be the most likely solution. Regardless of the implementation, for the remainder of this paper, it will be referred to as a ?broadcast? data link. This paper defers to the MP-CDL SPO as to whether those communications requirements are for GMTI data only or also include SAR imagery. The difference in data rates between those two requirements is significant. A reminder that an aircraft C2 link (and/or redundant link) must also be resident.

Therefore, with the advent of the JSTARS mission (driven by MP-RTIP), the communications requirements for the Global Hawk EO/IR and SAR data evolve to simultaneous LOS, BLOS, and broadcast. All or part of these can be part of MP-CDL. If only a portion of these three links are part of MP-CDL, the MP-CDL implementation must peacefully co-exist with the remaining links. Other CONOPS considerations (for example range, data rate, latency, and anti-jam requirements), MP-CDL network management requirements, and frequency management requirements should be considered in the overall implementation as these may require a bridge between communications systems. The overall implementation must be within the allowable Global Hawk SWAP limits. Consideration should be given to the station actually controlling the mission (sensor control) also controlling network and frequency management (and not the Global Hawk mission control element).

High data rates, part of any IMINT sensor, can be driven higher by data needed for such applications as coherent change detection. The data rates required by these applications must be considered in the overall MP-CDL solution. In some cases, minimal latency can be tolerated. In some cases, particularly those affecting TST, latency can not be tolerated. GMTI data rates do not begin to approach those required for SAR imagery. Consideration must be given to network latency for users with small antenna apertures operating in an anti-jamming environment at extreme ranges versus network (or outside the MP-CDL network) requirements for TST.

The Global Hawk, as do other aircraft, has a see and avoid requirement, the implementation of which will naturally preclude an onboard pilot. The greatest flight regime of concern is below 50,000 feet where the majority of other aircraft operate. The bandwidth offered by an MP-CDL broadcast may offer the possibility of using multiple cameras on the Global Hawk and displaying a panoramic view in the LRE.

When Global Hawk missions are allocated to Army commanders, or an Army officer is the JTF commander, the Enhanced Tactical Radar Correlator (ETRAC) and Modernized Imagery Exploitation System (MIES) (or successor processors) will process the imagery. If the U.S. Air Force is the "lead" Service, the processor would be the Contingency Airborne Reconnaissance System (CARS); if the Navy and Marines go in first, the Joint Services Imagery Processing System-Navy (JSIPS-N) would process the imagery. The Common Ground Station (CGS) will display the imagery no matter which system processed it.

The Global Hawk system is built by a team comprised of Teledyne Ryan Aeronautical in San Diego, E-Systems in Falls Church, Virginia, Hughes, Loral, and a number of other companies that are working on various subsystems within the aircraft.

In fiscal year 1999, Global Hawk flying quality flights were flown, and military utility flights were to commence in April. In March, 1999, a Global Hawk vehicle, with its sensors, went out of control and was destroyed. This crash has delayed the Global Hawk military utility study at least two months,

On 16 February 2000 Northrop Grumman Corp. of San Diego CA was awarded a $71,999,635 modification to a cost-plus-award-fee contract, MDA972-95-3-0013, to provide for two prototype Global Hawk unmanned aerial vehicles, associated system modification, and engineering support. Expected contract completion date is March 31, 2002.

As of March 2002 the Air Force inventory consisted of three Global Hawk Air Vehicles. Of the six that had been built, three were lost in mishaps.

The next full Global Hawk reconnaissance mission took place 11 March 2002, using Global Hawk Air Vehicle 3, which was deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. Northrop Grumman completed the sixth UAV in early 2002. The contractor had expected to fly it from the company's Palmdale, CA, plant to Edwards AFB for testing, but Air Vehicle 3 required parts for the aircraft supporting Enduring Freedom stationed abroad, and they were removed from air vehicle No. 6 to keep Global Hawk functioning in the theater.

A demonstrator version already has seen combat twice in Afghanistan and Iraq. The demonstrator flew just 3 percent of the imagery intelligence missions over Iraq but located 55 percent of the time-sensitive targets generated to destroy air defense equipment. It also identified almost 40 percent of Iraq’s armor, and the Combined Air Operations Center attributed the accelerated defeat of the Republican Guard to Global Hawk.

Air Vehicle Five, which crashed on 30 December 2001, carried the only existing elctro-optical / infrared payload for the Global Hawk. Raytheon planned to have at least one additional EO/IR payload ready for the new Air Vehicle six early in 2002. Air Vehicle Seven was scheduled for delivery late in 2002, and AV seven and eight were to follow in 2003. As of early 2002 plans were under way to accelerate production to two aircraft in 2004, four in 2005 and six in 2006.

Global Hawk is the most expensive UAV currently available. As of mid-2002 the estimated unit costs had tripled over the original estimate of $15 million apiece. The aircraft costs about $48 million with a full sensor quite, or about $70 million each if development costs are included. By contrast, the smaller Predator costs about $4.5 million.

The seventh Global Hawk unmanned aerial vehicle touched down at Edwards Air Force Base Feb. 14, 2003 after its flight from Air Force Plant 42 in nearby Palmdale, Calif., where it was built by lead government contractor Northrop Grumman. This latest Global Hawk is the program's final advanced concept technology platform and is slated for use as a test vehicle to support development and upgrade efforts.

The aircraft incorporates all of the improvements made to the Global Hawk to date in support of its current acquisition strategy, known as spiral development. The strategy is expected to deliver initial Global Hawk capabilities sooner than more conventional acquisition methods. Many of the improvements made to the reconnaissance aircraft stem from its early operational debut in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. Key to these improvements is the new integrated mission management computer system, which controls all of the flying and navigation operations of the aircraft. After minor modifications here, the test force will begin a full-scale developmental test program, which includes an evaluation of the new computer system.

The first production RQ-4A Global Hawk unmanned aerial vehicle rolled out in ceremonies held 01 August 2003 at prime contractor Northrop Grumman’s Antelope Valley Manufacturing Center at Air Force Plant 42 in Palmdale, CA. Drawing back a large curtain, program officials unveiled Global Hawk in its operational gray and white colors as Air Force dignitaries and contractor employees cheered and applauded the milestone.

As of 2004 the Air Force planned a production run of approximately 51 Global Hawks.

Navy RQ-4A Global Hawk

The first RQ-4A Global Hawk unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) slated for the Navy's Global Hawk Maritime Demonstration (GHMD) program made its first flight from Palmdale, Calif., to Edward’s Air Force Base Oct. 6, 2004. The mission lasted for approximately four hours and exercised the airframe, guidance system and powerplant. This was the first of two RQ-4A aircraft the Navy was acquiring as part of the GHMD program. The GHMD program is intended to develop maritime UAV tactics and operating procedures. Lessons learned from GHMD will be applied to future naval UAV systems. This system will provide the Navy with an enduring testbed to evaluate new technologies; to support fleet experiments and exercises; and to provide a contingency operational capability to support deployed Navy and Marine Corps forces. The Navy Global Hawks are designed with features specifically tailored to maritime missions, including new radar modes for detecting and identifying ships at sea, as well as passive sensors capable of picking up hostile radars. The ground stations are also modified, adding displays and controls needed to allow operators to analyze sensor information in real time and without external assistance.

The Global Hawk Maritime Demonstration system will be operated and maintained at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Md., with the first delivery scheduled for the summer of 2005. Although based at Patuxent River, the system will be moved/deployed to other locations to support exercises or deployed contingency operations.
 

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