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Northrop Grumman wins maintenance contract for Global Hawks

RQ-4 Global Hawk unmanned reconnaissance aircraft. Northrop Grumman

SAN DIEGO (BNS): Leading defence equipment company Northrop Grumman has bagged the $276 million contract for operations and maintenance of Global Hawks unmanned reconnaissance aircraft of the US Air Force (USAF).

The USAF operates seven Hawks which are based at Beale Air Force station in California and the contract pertains to the maintenance cycle in the year 2009-2010. The company will also provide operational assistance for two new forward operating locations at Andersen Air Force base, Guam and Naval air station at Sigonells, Italy, according to a statement.

"During that two-year period, all of the next-generation Block 20 Global Hawks will be fielded at all three operating locations and also continuing in support of the Global War on Terrorism (GWOT)," said George Guerra, Northrop Grumman vice president of high-altitude long-endurance systems.

"We are delighted in the Air Force's confidence in this truly dynamic and flexible intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance system that has recently supported various domestic missions, from wildfires and hurricanes to coastal patrols and drug interdictions."

According to the statement, the contract includes work related to ongoing engineering, data and configuration management, global supply chain management, spares and repairs, technical data and field services as well as maintenance.

The work will be held under 560th Aircraft Sustainment Group at Warner Robins Air Logistics Center in Robins Air force base at Georgia.

There would be other partners as well like L-3 Communications, Raytheon, Waltham and Rolls Royce.

Global Hawks have been deployed in the front by the USAF as it has become one of the major reconnaissance tools. The aircraft has logged more than 21,000 combat hours and is 95 per cent mission effective.

The unmanned aircraft has a ceiling of 65,000 feet and can even transmit data when weather is bad or during night. Most of the UAVs can not function in inclement weather.

The data is used by field commanders through real time imagers which are used for military planning and organising battle groups in both defensive and offensive roles. The statement said the Block 20 Global Hawk configuration can carry 1000 additional pounds of internal payload than Block 10.

The USAF use both Block 10 and 20 which are deployed in four locations, namely: Beale Air Force Base in Northern California, Edwards Air Force base, south California, Patuxent River naval air station in Maryland and one in GWOT.

Northrop Grumman Corporation is a leading global security company whose 120,000 employees provide innovative systems, products, and solutions in aerospace, electronics, information systems, shipbuilding and technical services to government and commercial customers worldwide.

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