SAN DIEGO, Feb. 26 (UPI) -- A Northrop Grumman solution to enable the use of legacy and future sensor systems on its RQ-4 Global Hawk drone has been successfully demonstrated.
The test involved the use of a legacy SYERS-2 intelligence gathering sensor attached to the high-altitude, long-endurance drone through the use of the company's innovative Universal Payload Adapter, a bracket mounted onto a Global Hawk airframe to support a wide variety of payloads.
With the success of the SYERS-2 flight, Northrop Grumman now plans to fly an Optical Bar Camera sensor and an MS-177 multi-spectral sensor later on the RQ-4 later this year.
"This SYERS-2 flight is only the beginning," said Mick Jaggers, Northrop's vice president and program manager for Global Hawk unmanned aircraft system programs. "We firmly believe that with the addition of the UPA, Global Hawk is capable of flying any mission the U.S. Air Force requires.
"Northrop Grumman is funding this study in order to prove that the system can affordably carry the same sensors as any other intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft. We look forward to continuing to work with our Air Force partners on this groundbreaking solution."
Global Hawks flown by the U.S Air Force are capable of carrying an Enhanced Integrated Sensor Suite, an Airborne Signals Intelligence Payload, and Multi-Platform Radar Technology Insertion Program.
The flight tests are taking place as a result of a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement with the USAF that allows the company to test sensors that previously couldn't be used on the Global Hawk.