25 Mar 02. Northrop Grumman Corp. (NYSE:NOC – news) Monday won a $247m contract to continue developing and building the high-flying Global Hawk U.A.V.
Under the contract, NG will keep working on the long-range drone—which features a wingspan greater than most airliners—focusing on communications, intelligence and sensor upgrades, the Pentagon said.
It said $34m of the funds had already been allocated and all work would be completed by December 2006.
“This is another step on the way before Global Hawk enters full-scale production,” said Northrop spokesman Randy Belote.
Before this contract, Northrop received $945m in orders to develop and build 17 of the spy drones for the Air Force. The program is due to begin full production in fiscal 2006, Belote said.
The new contract would cover improvements such as enhancing sensor payloads, increasing the reliability and endurance of the aircraft, he said. Global Hawk, which initially grew out of the Pentagon’s effort to develop cutting-edge technologies, is an experimental system designed for surveillance of the battlefield from altitudes above 50,000 feet.
The U.S. war on terrorism has focused new attention on Global Hawk and other pilotless drones, also known as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), with the Bush administration earmarking $1bn in its 2003 budget to speed development and purchase of aircraft like Global Hawk.
Military officials have said both the Global Hawk and the missile-firing RQ1 Predator, built by General Atomics of San Diego, have been used very effectively in the U.S. war.
BATTLESPACE IS RUNNING A SPECIAL FEATURE ON THE UK’S WATCHKEEP UAV PROGRAMME NEXT MONTH WHICH WILL HAVE SPECIAL DISTRIBUTION AT THE BERLIN ILA AIR SHOW