SAN DIEGO, Jan. 25, 2006 (PRIMEZONE) -- U.S. forces supporting the war on terrorism gained two critical intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance assets this month when the U.S. Air Force deployed the first two production RQ-4A Global Hawk unmanned aerial vehicles to theater. Global Hawk is designed and produced by Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE:NOC).
"The Air Force is committed to bringing real-time reconnaissance information to the commanders and is confident that Global Hawk is the right high-altitude asset to provide persistent surveillance over the battlefield," commented Jerry Madigan, vice president of Northrop Grumman's High Altitude Long Endurance programs.
The two RQ-4A Global Hawks arrived at the operating base earlier this month. The deployment team began functional test flights of the two vehicles immediately upon arrival. The Global Hawks, their sensors and ground stations were all tested and performed to Air Force requirements before the deployment.
They joined a previously deployed Global Hawk test asset, designed and developed as part of the system's advanced concept technology demonstration phase. That air vehicle has logged more than 3,000 hours in combat during a total of approximately two years in theater.
Madigan added that during a combat situation, "Global Hawk can loiter over an assigned area for more than a day or can be re-tasked to gather information over hot spots at a moment's notice. Once the Global Hawk is over the specific area, commanders can view problem areas quickly and make crucial decisions within minutes."
Through three deployments in support of the war on terrorism, more than 250 missions and 5,000 combat flight hours have been logged by just three 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.