SAN DIEGO --- Northrop Grumman Corporation's second RQ-4A Global Hawk Maritime Demonstrator has successfully completed its first flight, a critical step forward in the U.S. Navy's planned Maritime Demonstration program.
The unmanned aerial vehicle, being developed for the Navy and designated N-2, was launched autonomously from Northrop Grumman's production facility in Palmdale, Calif. During the four-hour flight, it tested accurately for air speed, altitude and direction. Once the communications links were verified, N-2 touched down at the Birk Flight Test Center at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif.
Under the Navy's Maritime Demonstration program, two RQ-4A Global Hawks will serve as testbeds as the Navy determines the unmanned aerial vehicle capabilities needed to patrol the open ocean as well as coastline areas.
``The Global Hawk Maritime Demonstrator will be an important tool for the Navy, because it can be used for long, critical and sometimes dangerous surveillance missions,'' said Bob Ettinger, Northrop Grumman's flight-test manager at Edwards Air Force Base. ``It allows the Navy to keep people on the ground, in a safer location than in the air.''
The Global Hawk Maritime Demonstrator's main operating base will be Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Md. Both vehicles will be deployed there later this year, along with ground stations that will link information from the Global Hawks directly to the entire Navy information network, which can be accessed by any ship. The program will also support fleet experiments and exercises over the next several years.
Global Hawk flies autonomously at an altitude of 65,000 feet, above inclement weather and prevailing winds for more than 35 hours. During a single mission it provides detailed image-based intelligence on 40,000 square miles.
Northrop Grumman's Second Global Hawk Maritime Demonstrator Successfully Completes First Flight