Northrop Grumman has worked with the U.S. Air Force‘s Life Cycle Management Center and Air Combat Command to develop an intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance payload adapter for the Block 30 RQ-4 Global Hawk unmanned aircraft system.
The parties built the IPA technology under a cooperative research-and-development agreement as part of efforts to link existing and future data-gathering sensors with the RQ-4 drone’s airframe system, the Air Force said Friday.
“This flexibility permits us to communicate to potential future interested vendors how to physically and electronically connect sensor platforms to the Global Hawk,” said Col. Darien Hammett, Global Hawk program director at the Air Force.
“Opening up the architecture of the air system will provide added sensor technology opportunities through increased competition, which is our goal.”
The Air Force also seeks to integrate the United Technologies Corp.‘s MS-177 multispectal camera technology onto the service branch’s Global Hawk fleet.
Northrop designed the RQ-4 Global Hawk to perform high-altitude ISR collection functions in support of joint combatant forces’ peacetime, contingency and wartime operations worldwide.