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
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.