SAN DIEGO, May 1, 2006 (PRIMEZONE) -- Northrop Grumman Corporation's (NYSE:NOC) Global Hawk unmanned aerial system has shown its utility as a persistent counter-drug surveillance asset in Congressionally Directed Demonstration flights over the southern U.S., along the Gulf of Mexico and into the Caribbean Sea.
Global Hawk conducted three 28-hour test flights during the months of February and March over a wide area of known drug-trafficking routes.
There were two goals during the flights. One was to show that Global Hawk's sensors could detect low-flying airplanes from an altitude of 60,000 feet. The second was to use Global Hawk's maritime sensor capabilities to locate and track fast-moving small boats. Low-flying airplanes and small boats are often used to smuggle drugs into the United States. Both goals were accomplished.
After launching from Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., the Global Hawk flew along the southern U.S., along the Gulf of Mexico, and eventually to the U.S. Air Force Southern Command's area of responsibility in the Caribbean Sea. The flights were controlled from Northrop Grumman's Unmanned Systems facility in San Diego, Calif.
During test flights, Global Hawk's integrated sensor suite successfully detected, tracked and imaged maritime targets as well as detected and tracked airborne targets off the coast of Corpus Christi, Tex., and Key West, Fla.
After all pre-planned targets were located, Global Hawk proceeded into the Caribbean, where it located multiple maritime ad-hoc targets of interest. The target locations were passed to a Navy P-3 Orion surveillance plane in the area and, using that information, the P-3 crew was able to confirm and classify the targets.
"This exercise demonstrated how the Global Hawk system could assist military combatant commanders and homeland security officials to stem the flow of illegal drug trafficking in the air and on the water," said James Kohn, Northrop Grumman's program manager for the demonstration.
The Global Hawk system features an unmanned aerial vehicle that flies at altitudes up to 60,000 feet above inclement weather and prevailing winds. Global Hawk can survey vast geographic regions with pinpoint accuracy. After mission parameters are programmed into Global Hawk, it can take off, fly its mission and land autonomously.
Northrop Grumman Corporation is a global defense company headquartered in Los Angeles, Calif. Northrop Grumman provides technologically advanced, innovative products, services and solutions in systems integration, defense electronics, information technology, advanced aircraft, shipbuilding and space technology. With approximately 125,000 employees and operations in all 50 states and 25 countries, Northrop Grumman serves U.S. and international military, government and commercial customers.
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