SAN DIEGO, Feb. 13, 2006 (PRIMEZONE) -- Northrop Grumman Corporation's (NYSE:NOC) RQ-4A Global Hawk reconnaissance system is the first unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) to achieve a military airworthiness certification. This certification, along with the Certificate of Authorization from the Federal Aviation Administration, recognizes Global Hawk's ability to routinely fly within national airspace.
Global Hawk's military airworthiness was certified Jan. 25, 2006, by the U.S. Air Force. In granting the certificate, the Air Force determined that the Global Hawk system has a proven track record of safe and reliable operations.
"This is a historic event," said Randy Brown, Global Hawk Systems Group director with the Air Force's Aeronautical Systems Center at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio. "The aircraft was evaluated against over 500 technical criteria in order to get this certification."
This airworthiness certification covers all five production RQ-4A Global Hawk vehicles delivered to the Air Force thus far and outweighs civilian experimental airworthiness certifications that have been granted to other UAVs. The military airworthiness certification process is very rigorous and has taken 3 years and 77,000 man-hours to achieve. This is a continuous process that will be maintained through the life of the aircraft, similar to that for all manned aircraft.
"Global Hawk was also the first UAV to receive a National Certificate of Authorization (COA) from the Federal Aviation Administration," said George Guerra, Northrop Grumman's Global Hawk Program Director. "Global Hawk continues to be a trailblazer in leading the way for UAV certifications."
To receive the COA, Northrop Grumman worked closely with the Federal Aviation Administration to define airspace requirements for UAVs.
The airworthiness certification process for the new RQ-4B Global Hawk has begun and is expected to be completed by late 2007. The larger RQ-4B Global Hawk will carry fifty percent more payload than the current RQ-4A Global Hawk. First flight for the RQ-4B is planned later this year.
During three deployments in support of the war on terrorism, more than 250 missions and 5,000 combat flight hours have been logged by Global Hawk aircraft.
Global Hawk flies autonomously at an altitude of more than 60,000 feet, above inclement weather and prevailing winds, for more than 35 hours at a time. During a single mission, it can provide detailed intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance information in near-real time over 40,000 square miles - approximately the size of Illinois.
Northrop Grumman Integrated Systems is a premier aerospace and defense systems integration organization. Headquartered in El Segundo, Calif., it designs, develops, produces and supports network-enabled integrated systems and subsystems optimized for use on networks. For its government and civil customers worldwide, Integrated Systems delivers best-value solutions, products and services that support military and homeland defense missions in the areas of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance; space access; battle management command and control; and integrated strike warfare.