SAN DIEGO, Aug. 17 (UPI) -- The Northrop Grumman-built RQ-4 Block 30 Global Hawk has been cleared by the U.S. Air Force to support real-time operations, the company reported.
While initial operational capability was recently declared, the Air Force earlier this year determined there was a critical need to use the Global Hawks and the unmanned aircraft were moved to operational status prior to the IOT&E report being released.
The aircraft have provided critical intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance in support of disaster relief efforts in Japan, NATO operations over Libya and are replacing Block 10 aircraft in Central Command operations.
"The men and women of Northrop Grumman are proud to provide Global Hawk's unprecedented capabilities to support critical missions all over the world," said George Guerra, HALE vice president, Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems.
There are nine Block 30 Global Hawks stationed abroad.
The Block 30 Global Hawks are equipped with Raytheon's enhanced integrated sensor suite, which includes electro-optical/infrared and synthetic aperture radar.
Within the next year, the Block 30 aircraft will be reconfigured to perform a multi-intelligence role with the introduction of Northrop Grumman's Airborne Signals Intelligence Payload with the existing EISS.