Description: The RQ-4 Global Hawk is a high-altitude, long-endurance (HALE) unmanned aircraft with an integrated sensor suite that provides intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities all over the world. The RQ-4 program was developed for the United States Air Force (USAF) by Northrop Grumman in the 1990s and will eventually replace the venerable U-2 manned reconnaissance aircraft. The program started as an advanced concept technology demonstrator (ACTD) in 1995 with the aim to deliver an all-weather, day/night, wide-area surveillance system. The first aircraft was delivered to the USAF in November 2001 to support the Global War on Terror (GWOT) with the RQ-4 system reaching full operational capability by 2012. USAF plans call for the procurement of 77 aircraft (cut down to 66 aircraft in 2011) with the US Navy to procure an undisclosed number of RQ-4Ns beginning in 2014. Germany is the first export customer with five Euro Hawks on order.
The Global Hawk system consists of the RQ-4 air vehicle; mission control element (MCE) with two workstations for a pilot and a sensor operator crew; launch and recovery element (LRE) also operated by pilot with his workstation acting as the cockpit; a wide variety of sensors; command and control links covering health and status of the aircraft, sensors, navigational systems and communication links; support element; and trained personnel. The Imagery Intelligence (IMINT) sensors include synthetic aperture radar, electro-optical and medium-wave infrared sensors, and active electronically scanned array radar. The system offers a wide variety of employment options. The long range and endurance of this system allow tremendous flexibility in meeting mission requirements. In the United States Department of Defense (DoD) parlance 'R' refers to Reconnaissance and 'Q' refers to unmanned aircraft system.
The Northrop Grumman RQ-4N Broad Area Maritime Surveillance Unmanned Aircraft System (BAMS UAS) is a marinized version of the RQ-4 Global Hawk aircraft family. Its primary mission is to provide persistent maritime intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) data collection and dissemination capability that fulfills the US Navy's requirement for continuous battle-space awareness. The BAMS system will operate in conjunction with the P-8A Poseidon multi-mission maritime aircraft and support the joint forces in open ocean and littoral environments worldwide. The US Navy awarded the BAMS $1.16 billion System Development and Demonstration (SDD) contract to Northrop Grumman on April 22, 2008. The SDD contract extends through September 2014.
The RQ-4N BAMS platform will be equipped with a comprehensive suite of sensors and communications systems to detect, track, classify, and identify maritime and littoral targets delivering this critical battle-space awareness data to joint forces and fleet commanders worldwide. The sensor suite will include the Northrop Grumman's BAMS Multi-Function Active Sensor active electronically scanned array radar and Raytheon's electro-optical payloads.
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