Washington: What began as a plan to get the Air Force and Navy versions of the Global Hawk unmanned aerial system under a single control station is now going worldwide, a top industry official said today.
The new common ground station being designed by Northrop Grumman for the Navy’s Broad Area Maritime Surveillance UAS and Air Force’s Global Hawk will now be able to control the NATO version and other international variants of the plane, according to George Guerra, the company’s vice president for high altitude long endurance systems.
The Air Force is set to release a formal proposals request for the first phase of development for the ground station by the end of this month, he said. A draft version of the proposal is already under review by Northrop program officials, Guerra added.
That said, company engineers are already working a set of open-ended approaches for the new common control station. Those open-ended approaches will make the ground station able to control Air Force, Navy and NATO-owned Global Hawks, Guerra told reporters during the Air Force Association’s annual symposium here.
Northrop officials are in the final stages of closing the NATO deal, in which the alliance will use the Global Hawk as the basis for its new Alliance Ground Surveillance program, Guerra said.
Along with the services and NATO, these new control station will also be able to meet the “unique requirements” of foreign militaries who are looking to get the Global Hawk into their arsenals.
Most recently, the Air Force and their counterparts in the South Korean military are reviewing a formal letter of agreement to sell four Block 30 versions of the Global Hawk to the Asian nation, Guerra said.
The Australian and Japanese militaries are also in informal talks with the Pentagon and the services on possible bulk buys of both Navy and Air Force versions of the Global Hawk.
If finalized, those South Korean, Japanese and Australian Global Hawks will also be controlled from those new ground station is well, Guerra said.
In July, the Joint Staff told Navy and Air Force leaders tied to the Global Hawk program that getting a common ground station up and running was their top priority. Northrop had been working with Naval Air Systems Command on creating a common control system, but NAVAIR canceled that program in February