Northrop Grumman Awarded $4.8 Billion Global Hawk Contract

Northrop Grumman has been awarded a $4.8 billion indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity (IDIQ) contract in support of the U.S. Air Force Global Hawk unmanned surveillance aircraft fleet.

The contract is for the development, modernization, retrofit and sustainment activities for all Air Force Global Hawk variants. The Air Force Life Cycle Management Center (AFLCMC) at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, is the primary contracting activity (FA8690-21-D-1009).

The contract provides for management, including program, business and technical areas; engineering efforts, including configuration management, data management, reliability, availability and maintainability, and related areas of concern such as technical refresh, diminishing manufacturing sources, etc.; studies and analyses; design, development, integration, test and evaluation; contract/production line closeout/shutdown; training; sparing; overseas contingency operations support; fielding; cyber security/information assurance; interoperability support; facilities modifications/renovation; integrated logistics support; requirements management specification management; and quality assurance. Additional, and more specific, guidance will be included within each individual delivery order/task order statement of work and performance work statement regarding these and other tasks.

This contract provides flexibility to accommodate the broad enterprise of activities associated with the Global Hawk program.

The Pentagon contract announcement said that the work under this contract will be performed in San Diego, California, and is expected to be completed Sept. 30, 2030.

RQ-4 Global Hawk

The RQ-4 Global Hawk is a high-altitude, long-endurance, remotely piloted aircraft (RPA) equipped with an integrated sensor suite that provides global all-weather, day or night intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) capability.

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 provides persistent near-real-time coverage using imagery intelligence (IMINT), signals intelligence (SIGINT) and moving target indicator (MTI) sensors.

In addition to supporting ISR requirements, the Global Hawk has been used for humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HADR) and Search and Rescue missions.

The U.S Air Force (USAF) is the primary operator of the Global Hawk and fields the aircraft in three distinct blocks. Seven Block 10 aircraft were procured, but were retired from the Air Force inventory in 2011. Block 20s were initially fielded with IMINT-only capabilities, but three Block 20s have been converted to an EQ-4 communication relay configuration, carrying the Battlefield Airborne Communication Node (BACN) payload. Block 30 is a multi-intelligence platform that simultaneously carries electro-optical, infrared, synthetic aperture radar (SAR), and high and low band SIGINT sensors. Block 30 Initial Operating Capability (IOC) was declared in August 2011. Block 40 carries the Radar Technology Insertion Program (RTIP) active electronically scanned array radar which provides MTI and SAR data. Block 40 Early Operating Capability (EOC) was declared in Sep 2013.

Global Hawk aircraft is also operated by the Republic of Korea Air Force (ROKAF), NATO (known as RQ-4D Phoenix Alliance Ground Surveillance, AGS) and NASA, and is also ordered by the Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF). The U.S. Navy has developed the Global Hawk into the MQ-4C Triton maritime surveillance platform.

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