Northrop Grumman has flown a SYERS-2 intelligence-gathering sensor on an RQ-4 Global Hawk unmanned aircraft system using its Universal Payload Adapter.
The company said Thursday the demonstration marked the first time the U.S Air Force sensor has been mounted on a high-altitude drone.
The flight tests conducted at Northrop’s California facility are part of the company’s cooperative research and development agreement with the Air Force, which the company said allows it to test previously unsupported sensors on the Global Hawk.
Northrop added it plans to fly Optical Bar Camera and MS-177 multi-spectral sensors on the Global Hawk later this year.
The company’s UPA works to allow a variety of previously unavailable payloads to be integrated on the Global Hawk airframe, Northrop noted.
Mick Jaggers, Northrop vice president and program manager for Global Hawk UAS programs, said the company believes Global Hawk can fly any Air Force mission through the help of an UPA.
Jaggers added the flight tests aim to indicate that the system can carry the same sensors as with other intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft at a lower cost.