Northrop Grumman plans to update its RQ-4 Global Hawk unmanned aerial vehicle in an effort to meet the Missile Defense Agency's requirements for the high-altitude, long-endurance drone program, FlightGlobal reported Thursday.
Northrop responded to a request for information MDA published on FedBizOpps in June.
MDA is interested in a HALE UAV designed to carry a high-energy laser platform that works to target a boost phase intercontinental ballistic missile and fly at an altitude of 63,000 feet with a payload capacity of 5,000 pounds to 12,500 pounds.
Mike Lyons, Global Hawk business development lead at Northrop, said the company considers working with MDA and the U.S. Air Force to address the altitude gap and reduce the weight of its drone.
The report said Northrop intends to take out some equipment payload from Global Hawk instead of redesigning the drone for the program.
Global Hawk is designed to operate at an altitude of 60,000 feet with a payload capacity of up to 3,000 pounds.
MDA plans to conduct a low-power test flight for the HALE program by 2020 with plans to deploy the drone by 2023, the report added.