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Posted 12/23/2009 Printable Fact Sheet
RQ-4 Global Hawk
RQ-4 Global Hawk in flight
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The RQ-4 Global Hawk is a high-altitude, long-endurance unmanned aircraft system with an integrated sensor suite that provides intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, or ISR, capability worldwide. Global Hawk's mission is to provide a broad spectrum of ISR collection capability to support joint combatant forces in worldwide peacetime, contingency and wartime operations. The Global Hawk complements manned and space reconnaissance systems by providing near-real-time coverage using imagery intelligence or IMINT, sensors.

Global Hawk offers a wide variety of employment options. The Global Hawk system consists of the RQ-4 aircraft with an integrated sensor suite, launch and recovery element, or LRE, mission control element, or MCE, sensors, communication equipment mission planning equipment, support element and trained personnel. The IMINT sensors include synthetic aperture radar, electro-optical and medium-wave infrared sensors. The Global Hawk will eventually carry the airborne signals intelligence payload. One version of Global Hawk will carry the Radar Technology Insertion Program active electronically scanned array radar.

The LRE, located at the aircraft base with the aircraft, launches the aircraft until handoff to the MCE contains functions required to launch, recover and operate an aircraft while en route to or from the target area. The LRE contains one pilot station providing the capability to operate one aircraft with no sensor operations.

The MCE controls the Global Hawk for the bulk of the ISR mission. Like the LRE, the MCE is manned by one pilot, but adds a sensor operator to the crew. Command and control data links enable complete dynamic control of the mission aircraft. The pilot workstations in the MCE and LRE are the control and display interface (cockpit) providing aircraft health and status, sensors status and a means to alter the navigational track of the aircraft. From this station, the pilot communicates with outside entities to coordinate the mission (air traffic control, airborne controllers, ground controllers, other ISR assets).

The sensor operator workstation provides capability to dynamically update the collection plan in real time, initiate sensor calibration, and monitor sensor status. The sensor operator also assists the exploitation node with image quality control, target deck prioritization and scene tracking to ensure fluid operations.

The system offers a wide variety of employment options. The long range and endurance allow tremendous flexibility in meeting mission requirements.

Global Hawk began as an Advanced Concept Technology Demonstration in 1995. The system was determined to have military utility and provide warfighters with an evolutionary high-altitude, long-endurance ISR capability. While still a developmental system, the Global Hawk deployed operationally to support the global war on terrorism in November 2001. The Global Hawk UAS provides near-continuous all-weather, day/night, wide area surveillance and will eventually replace the U-2.

In the RQ-4 name, the "R" is the Department of Defense designation for reconnaissance and "Q" means unmanned aircraft system. The "4" refers to the series of purpose-built remotely piloted aircraft systems.

The Global Hawk is operated by the 12th Reconnaissance Squadron. The 1st RS provides formal training. The13th RS provides reserve manpower augmentation. Each of these squadrons are located at Beale Air Force Base, Calif.

General Characteristics
Primary function: High-altitude, long-endurance ISR
Contractor: Northrop Grumman (Prime), Raytheon, L3 Comm
Power Plant: Rolls Royce-North American AE 3007H turbofan
Thrust: 7,600 pounds
Wingspan: RQ-4A 116 feet (35.3 meters); RQ-4B 130.9 feet (39.8 meters)
Length: RQ-4A 44 feet (13.4 meters); RQ-4B, 47.6 feet (14.5 meters)
Height: RQ-4A 15.2 (4.6 meters); RQ-4B, 15.3 feet (4.7 meters)
Weight: RQ-4A, 11,350 pounds (5,148 kilograms); RQ-4B, 14,950 pounds (6,781 kilograms)
Maximum takeoff weight: RQ-4A, 26,750 pounds (12,133 kilograms ); RQ-4B, 32,250 pounds (14628 kilograms)
Fuel Capacity: RQ-4A, 15,400 pounds (6,985 kilograms); RQ-4B, 17,300 pounds (7847 kilograms)
Payload: RQ-4A, 2,000 pounds (907 kilograms); RQ-4B, 3,000 pounds (1,360 kilograms)
Speed: RQ-4A, 340 knots (391 mph); RQ-4B, 310 knots (357 mph)
Range: RQ-4A, 9,500 nautical miles; RQ-4B, 8,700 nautical miles
Ceiling: 60,000 feet (18,288 meters)
Armament: None
Crew (remote): Three (LRE pilot, MCE pilot and sensor operator)
Unit Cost: RQ-4A, $37.6 million; RQ-4B, $55-$81 million
Initial operating capability: fiscal 2012 (multi-aircraft control capability)
Inventory: Active force, RQ-4A: 7; RQ-4B: 3

November 2009

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