Northrop Grumman’s Global Hawk enhances satellite communications

Northrop Grumman
Northrop Grumman
RQ-4 Global Hawk

The U.S. Air Force RQ-4 Global Hawk unmanned aircraft system (UAS) has completed a series of ground and air demonstrations at Beale Air Force Base in California, expanding the adaptability of the Global Hawk system to use an additional satellite communications (SATCOM) link to improve the transfer of mission data.

At the request of the USAF Air Combat Command, Northrop Grumman worked with Air Force partners to demonstrate that Global Hawk is compatible with different SATCOM architectures with no changes to the aircraft’s hardware, software or payload. Taking place from Jan. 13-15, the demonstration highlighted a unique split link capability for Global Hawk that allows it to send mission data through a satellite link that is independent of the link used for command and control, says a Northrop Grumman press release.

“This powerful demonstration illustrates Global Hawk’s unique versatility,” said Alfredo Ramirez, director and chief architect of Northrop Grumman’s HALE Enterprise. “We’re ecstatic with Global Hawk’s ability to provide intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance products to operational end-users via multiple paths.”

The combat-proven Global Hawk has logged more than 110,000 flight hours and carries a variety of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance sensor payloads to allow military commanders to gather near real-time images and uses radar to detect moving or stationary targets on the ground or at sea. The system supports anti-terrorism, antipiracy, humanitarian assistance, disaster relief, airborne communications and information-sharing missions