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Global Hawk Flies High Sees All in Rim of the Pacific Navy Exercise

Global Hawk (pictured) flies autonomously at an altitude of at least 60,000 feet for more than 35 hours, depending on the mission.
by Staff Writers
San Diego CA (SPX) Aug 17, 2006
During the multi-national Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) exercise, the RQ-4 Global Hawk Maritime Demonstration system produced by Northrop Grumman Corporation flew four successful maritime surveillance missions to demonstrate the system's capabilities from identifying targets in a coastal, or littoral, environment to wide area maritime search, tracking and identification.

The RIMPAC exercise was conducted in late July in the Pacific Ocean around Hawaii.

The U.S. Navy operated one of its two Global Hawk Maritime Demonstration (GHMD) air vehicles from Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., to Hawaii for each mission flown. Equipped with sensors carrying new maritime software modes, GHMD captured images of various RIMPAC activities, including a ship-sinking exercise, expanded maritime interdiction operations, and wide-area search and surveillance to locate target vessels at sea.

GHMD flew more than 2,500 miles each way for a total of more than 100 flight hours and provided more than 8 hours on-station time during each mission.

"We directed the GHMD system to perform a series of different missions during the exercise and it provided the near-real-time persistent maritime/littoral surveillance data right when we needed it," commented Commander Robert Proano, the U.S. Navy's Third Fleet coordinator for the RIMPAC exercise.

"This is the second exercise in the last 12 months to successfully demonstrate Global Hawk's ability to provide long-dwell, accurate maritime surveillance over both the open ocean and littoral waters," said Jerry Madigan, vice president of Northrop Grumman's high altitude, long endurance systems.

"Global Hawk's ability to clearly identify and track target vessels in various sea states from 12 miles above the ocean's surface will extend the Navy's reach to protect Navy battle groups, U.S. territories and defend against intruders."

Global Hawk's role as a flexible interoperable surveillance asset was successfully demonstrated when the air vehicle flew back over land and operators were able to switch its sensors easily from their maritime modes to the over-land modes.

Global Hawk flies autonomously at an altitude of at least 60,000 feet for more than 35 hours, depending on the mission. During a single mission, Global Hawk can travel more than 10,000 nautical miles from its takeoff location, and it provides detailed image-based intelligence on 40,000 square miles, an area approximately the size of Illinois.

In addition to on-going testing for the U.S. Navy and other services, production Global Hawks are employed in-theater today supporting the global war on terrorism.

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