You will be redirected to the page you want to view in  seconds.

AF drops plan to improve sensors on newest Global Hawks

Nov. 19, 2013 - 06:00AM   |  
Airmen work on an RQ-4 Global Hawk after it returned to Beale Air Force Base, Calif. The US Air Force has decided not to pursue an adapter that would improve the Block 30's sensor suite.
Airmen work on an RQ-4 Global Hawk after it returned to Beale Air Force Base, Calif. The US Air Force has decided not to pursue an adapter that would improve the Block 30's sensor suite. (Air Force)
  • Filed Under

The Air Force will not buy a “universal payload adapter” to attach sensors from the U-2 to a variant of the unmanned RQ-4 Global Hawk, another sign that the service is not interested in keeping the brand-new planes in the sky.

The Block 30 variant of the Global Hawk, a massive unmanned aircraft designed for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, has been repeatedly targeted for cuts by the Air Force. The service planned to move the aircraft straight from the production line to the boneyard in 2013, but that move was blocked by Congress.

The Block 30’s sensor suite is not as capable as the U-2, and Global Hawk builder Northrop Grumman has been designing an adapter to attach the superior system to the unmanned aircraft. The Air Force, however, does not intend to use the adapter, said Maj. Ryan Simms, the chief of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance and remotely pilot aircraft policy in the headquarters Air Force executive action group.

Northrop Grumman officials said earlier this year that they are working through internal research and development on the adapter. Tom Vice, head of Northrop’s Aerospace Systems sector, told reporters in August that it was a “mature technology.”

The Air Force called the adapter “feasible,” and said it would cost about $487 million. It would take three years to develop and test, followed by another two years of production, according to an April report sent to congressional defense committees.

The adapter would attach the Optical Bar Camera or Senior Year Electro-Optical Reconnaissance System-2b sensors, in addition to Airborne Signals Intelligence Payload.

Simms told Air Force Times on Tuesday that budget restrictions will prevent the service from moving forward with the adapter.

Despite their uncertain future, Block 30s are currently flying humanitarian aid and military missions, Simms said. One Global Hawk in the Philippines has flown 50 hours and taken 300 pictures, he said.

Answers by RallyPoint

Join trending discussions in the military's #1 professional community. See what members like yourself have to say from across the DoD.

More In News

Start your day with a roundup of top defense news.

VA Home Loan

Search By:

Product Options:
Zip Code:

From Our Blogs


The latest from PT365

News for your in-box

Sign up now for free Military Times E-Reports. Choose from Money and Education. Subscribers: log in for premium e-newsletters.

This Week's Army Times

This Week's Army Times

CrossFit vs. unit PT
Troops will do the training plans in a $2.5 million study

Subscribe for Print or Digital delivery today!

MilitaryTimes Green Trusted Classifieds Looking to buy, sell and connect on Military Times?
Browse expanded listings across hundreds of military installations.
Faces of valorHonoring those who fought and died in Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom.
hall of valorThe Hall of Valor is a searchable database of valor award citations collected by Doug Sterner, a Vietnam veteran and Military Times contributing editor, and by Military Times staff.

All you need to know about your military benefits.

Benefits handbook

Guard & Reserve All you need to know about the Guard & Reserve.

guard and reserve handbook