Global Hawk Block-20 Arrives for 18-Month Test Period

3/8/2007 - EDWARDS AFB, CA -- Edwards welcomed the first production RQ-4 Block-20 Global Hawk from U.S. Air Force Plant 42 in Palmdale, Calif., on March 1 to begin 18 months of testing here.

The Block-20 is the first of a new series of Global Hawks including Blocks 30 and 40.

"It is an exciting day for the Air Force, the Northrop Grumman team and all the folks who have brought this day to pass," said Lt. Col. Douglas Jaquish, 452nd Flight Test Squadron commander. "We are excited to have Block 20 at Edwards, and we are looking forward to the testing that will take place in the next few months to get this new aircraft ready for the warfighter."

The event was a culmination of planning by the Global Vigilance Combined Test Force and Northrop Grumman Integrated Systems, said Anthony Kaiser, Global Hawk Flight Test project manager.

"The entire team is preparing to move forward for the combined developmental and operational flight tests scheduled to begin late May to early June," Mr. Kaiser said.

The developmental testing proves the hardware and software for safe flight and assures the aircraft meets the contract specifications, while operational testing verifies the use of the Block-20 in representative operational scenarios, said James Payne, Global Hawk Flight Test Northrop Grumman site manager.

The Block-20 variant is significantly larger than its Block-10 predecessor, Mr. Kaiser said. It has a 130.9-foot wingspan, which is 15 feet greater than Block-10s. The fuselage was also redesigned and strengthened to accommodate a 3,000-pound payload capacity, an increase of 1,000 pounds from the Block-10.

The Block-20's length is 47.6 feet, an increase from the Block-10 variant's 44.4 feet.
Two of the planned larger payloads are the aircraft's Advanced Signals Intelligence Payload and the Multi-Platform Radar Technology Insertion Program, he said.

The Global Vigilance Combined Test Force is composed of maintainers, engineers, pilots and project managers from 452nd FLTS, 31st Test and Evaluation Squadron, Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation Center and the Northrop Grumman Corporation.

Source: USAF Edwards AFB by Airman 1st Class Julius Delos Reyes

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