20 Sep 10. Northrop Grumman Corporation and the U.S. Air Force commemorated the milestone deployment of the first RQ-4 Global Hawk unmanned aircraft system (UAS) to Pacific Command (PACOM) with an arrival ceremony Sept. 20 at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam. Designated AF-20, the aircraft landed successfully Sept. 1 after an 18-hour flight from its main operating base at Beale Air Force Base, Calif.
“We believe that an intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) capability within the Pacific theater meets the needs of U.S. Air Force operations and will help the U.S. and its partners and allies address common regional challenges such as humanitarian assistance, disaster relief, terrorism, and piracy,” said Gen. Gary L. North, commander of the Pacific Air Forces and Air Component for U.S. PACOM. “Having the Global Hawk in the Pacific encourages a dialogue for regional cooperation, security and stability in this region.”
The historical landing in Guam not only signified the stand-up of a new forward-operating location and first permanent overseas basing of the high-altitude, long-endurance UAS, but it also marked the 45,000th flight hour for the Global Hawk program. In addition to PACOM, Global Hawk has also been forward-deployed to European Command, or EUCOM, forces at Naval Air Station Sigonella, Italy, where another Block 30 Global Hawk, designated AF-15, arrived Sept. 15. Block 30 Global Hawks will be based at both Sigonella and Andersen and will be operational in early 2011.
“These remarkable accomplishments demonstrate why we refer to 2010 as the year of Global Hawk,” said Duke Dufresne, sector vice president and general manager of the Strike and Surveillance Systems Division for Northrop Grumman’s Aerospace Systems sector. “Global Hawk will now be covering nearly every part of the globe, thanks to the dedication and efforts of the entire military and industry team. The Global Hawks are not only combat-proven with more than 35,000 combat hours, but they have also been employed this year during the Haiti earthquake in January and during several Atlantic and Pacific hurricanes in August and September.”
Cruising at extremely high altitudes and above ordinary, commercial traffic, the RQ-4 Global Hawk can survey large geographic areas with pinpoint accuracy, giving government and military decision-makers the most current information available during a crisis or contingency situation and providing them with near real-time, high-resolution ISR imagery that can support full-spectrum operations.
16 Sep 10. Further details have begun to emerge about the details of the Australian Army’s foreign military sales (FMS) JP 129 contract. Sources close to the programme suggest that the A$175m price tag for Shadow 200 represents an initial saving of A$20m on the cancelled Boeing/IAI offering and that the army projects a further $200m in savings from total life cycle costs. The figure being paid by Australia is significantly higher than that paid by Sweden or Italy in their commercial purchases of the system. However, one source told Unmanned Vehicles that the price tag still represented real value for money because of all the additional elements that Australia has purchased. The extra air vehicles and remote viewing terminals have already been reported by UV. The Australian Army is also receiving extra ground control station elements, but much of the additional cost of the contract is wrapped up in the support of the system once it is delivered. However, the contract extends beyond the initial supply of the UAS. The $175m also covers a full three years of engineering modification support that will cover the integration of all US Army modifications during that period. These include the integration of the tactical common data link and extended wing. The US Army is currently in discussions with AAI- Textron about weaponising Shadow and Australia could also benefit from this. The FMS also contains a training package for the first 110