SAN DIEGO, Feb. 1 (UPI) -- Northrop Grumman said it ended 2007 by delivering five Global Hawk aircraft to the U.S. Air Force.
"Not only did we exceed our production and delivery goals last year, but we have also performed on cost and on schedule for the past two years," said Jerry Madigan, Northrop Grumman vice president of high-altitude long-endurance systems.
"That is no easy feat for any program, especially for one as large and complex as the combat-proven Global Hawk, the Air Force's biggest, most-capable unmanned aerial system," said Randy Brown, Global Hawk program director for the 303rd Aeronautical Systems Group at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. "Global Hawk surpassed our expectations further by displaying its strength and versatility during the Southern California wildfires in late October, becoming the newest element in our country's firefighting arsenal."
"Flying its first civil emergency support sortie, Global Hawk completed three missions ranging from 10 to 14 hours and collected more than 700 images to support firefighters and local authorities," Northrop Grumman said.
"All nine of the Block 10 aircraft have been completed -- seven for the Air Force plus two for the U.S. Navy's Global Hawk Maritime Demonstration -- GHMD -- as well as two ground stations each consisting of a mission control element -- MCE -- and a launch and recovery element -- LRE. Seventeen aircraft are presently in various stages of production and flight test -- six Block 20s, 10 Block 30s and one Block 40, plus six ground stations," the company said.
"In addition, three Global Hawks have been deployed in support of the global war on terrorism -- GWOT, logging nearly 14,000 combat hours with approximately 19,000 total program flights hours and 95 percent mission effectiveness. Out of the 456 combat missions flown since January 2006, only 11 sorties were canceled in 2007 due to maintenance, weather, or mission reasons," Northrop Grumman said.
"The system is so robust and reliable that it was deployed, while still an advanced concept technology demonstration asset, immediately after Sept. 11, 2001," said Brown.