The Northrop Grumman Corporation has made public its disappointment that the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) canceled a program in which an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) produced by Northrop was used to conduct surveillance and acquire intelligence.
That DoD program was known as the “Global Hawk Block 30 program” and Northrop Grumman produces the Global Hawk UAV that was being used in that program.
“The Global Hawk program has demonstrated its utility in U.S. military operations in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya, as well as its utility in humanitarian operations in Japan and Haiti,” Northrop says. “Just a few months ago, the Pentagon published an acquisition decision memorandum regarding Global Hawk Block 30 that stated: ‘The continuation of the program is essential to the national security… there are no alternatives to the program which will provide acceptable capability to meet the joint military requirement at less cost,’” the company adds.
The DoD say the mission originally planned for the Global Hawk is now to be performed using U-2 aircraft.
To which Northrop says, the Global Hawk is the modern solution to providing surveillance. “It provides long duration persistent surveillance, and collects information using multiple sensors on the platform,” the company says. “In contrast, the aging U-2 program, first introduced in the 1950s, places pilots in danger, has limited flight duration, and provides limited sensor capacity. Extending the U-2’s service life also represents additional investment requirements for that program.” Northrop also says it is going to work with the Pentagon to assess alternatives to terminating the program.