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Facts About Global Hawk

Global Hawk is jet-powered, has very precise onboard navigational and programmable flight control systems and is designed to stay in flight for long periods at high altitude.

The Global Hawk air vehicle - equivalent in wing size to a Boeing 737 - can fly autonomously at altitudes of up to 65,000 feet and remain 'on-station' for more than 24 hours.

Over a 24-hour on-station period, Global Hawk can search an area of more than 40,000 square miles - twice the size of Tasmania.


Global Hawk, developed by the Northrop Grumman Ryan Aeronautical Centre for the United States Air Force, has a 14,000 nautical mile range and can fly non-stop for up to 36 hours.

Its long range and long endurance combined with satellite and line-of-sight communication links allow worldwide operation of the unmanned aircraft.

Its current sensors include a synthetic aperture radar (SAR) with a moving target indicator mode, and an electro-optical and infra-red sensor. Using a combination of these sensors, the system can 'see' through adverse weather and image day or night, from an altitude of up to 65,000 feet.

Global Hawk had its successful maiden flight in February 1998.

Five US Air Force Global Hawks have since flown over 60 flights and clocked up more than 600 hours, including a flight across the Atlantic Ocean from Florida to Portugal and back.

The trans-Pacific flight to Australia has been Global Hawk's biggest challenge to date.

The Australian contribution to the Global Hawk Project Arrangement has involved a wide range of Australian defence and civilian organisations including DSTO, RAAF, Computer Sciences Corporation, BAE Systems Australia, Camtech and VCorp Consulting.


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Global Hawk

Global Hawk cutaway. View larger version (132 KB)


Figure showing the altitude at which Global Hawk can fly relative to other aircraft. View larger version (60 KB)