Global Hawk (CONV HAE UAV) Program


Global Hawk, also identified as the Conventional High Altitude Endurance (CONV HAE) or TierII+ UAV, is intended to be employed as the HAE UAV "workhorse" for missions requiring long-range deployment and wide-area surveillance or long sensor dwell over the target area. It will be directly deployable from well outside the theater of operation, followed by extended on-station time in low- to moderate-risk environments to look into high-threat areas with EO/IR and SAR sensors in order to provide both wide-area and spot imagery; survivability will derive from its very high operating altitude and self-defense measures. The HAE Common Ground Segment (CGS) (see page26) will provide launch and recovery and mission control elements (LRE and MCE) that are common and interoperable with DarkStar. Prime contractor is Teledyne Ryan Aeronautical (TRA), San Diego, CA.



Air Vehicles (TBD)
1 Common Ground Segment


Sensors: EO, IR, and SAR
Deployment: AV: self-deployable;
multiple C-141/ C-17/C-5 sorties for other eqpt*

Radius: 5,556 km (3,000 nm)
Endurance: >40 hrs (24 hrs at radius)
Max Altitude: 19.8 km (65,000 ft)
Cruise Speed: 639 km/hr (345 kts)

*Depends on equipment deployed and deployment duration

Funding ($M):

RDT&E (Defense-wide)





Program Status

Since contract award for PhaseII in June 1995, the TRA team has fabricated the first AV and is performing subsystem and system tests. Phase II comprises an extensive fabrication and system test program to assure air vehicle-ground segment integration, demonstrate system capabilities, and reduce risk. Final design review was completed in May 1996, the wing loading test in June, full air vehicle assembly in September, and subsystem checkout continues in October. First flight is planned for Spring 1997, to be followed by a series of AV flight and system tests and initial demonstrations. Meanwhile, fabrication of AV #2 began in July 1996. PhaseII will extend through 1Q/FY 1998. PhaseIII's operational demonstrations of the full HAE UAV system are scheduled to begin in mid-FY 1998. Program management is scheduled to transition from DARPA to an Air Force-led joint program office at the end of December 1997.


 Deep-Look Wide-Area Reconnaissance for Commanders

Advanced System Concept

Global Hawk's role in the HAE UAV CONOPS is illustrated on page 30. Meanwhile, in light of Predator's wide dissemination of imagery via JBS satellites during its second Bosnia deployment, comparable scenarios are being examined for this longer-range UAV under a Global Hawk-Airborne Communications Node (ACN) system concept. The ACN concept envisions a communications node payload for a UAV to provide gateway and relay services to surface and air forces. This capability would specifically enhance long-range/endurance deployment of a HAE UAV to meet contingency requirements. Options and features are summarized below.



  • Global Hawk coverage available at H-hour (vice weeks to deploy and start operating)
  • Less vulnerable (at 65,000 ft altitude, 200 km slant range) than overflight and local signal sites
  • Open system architecture w/software-reconfigurable communications payload
  • Exploitation of military & commercial satellite and other links and networks for wide dissemination

In-Theater Coverage:

  • Global Hawk provides 500 km LOS
  • Connectivity for:
    • Isolated/manuevering forces
    • Forward elements (back to U.S.)
    • Dissimiliar radios via ACN gateways
    • Developing crises without large in-theater assets
  • AV self-deployment eases lift needs


Coverage from CONUS:

  • Trades Global Hawk's 40+ hrs endurance vs. 25,000 km max range
  • Intercontinental ops could involve 12+ hrs on-station (w/6,500 km round trip)
  • With =4 hrs AV ground maintenance, 4 GH-ACN assets could cover crisis area indefinitely from CONUS
  • AV self-deployment + out-of-theater support = no need for lift
  • Recce equivalent of strategic bombing


 It all started 93 years ago with two brothers from Ohio.... Think where we will go in the next 93 years.

General Joseph W. Ralston, USAF
Vice Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff
Address to the National Aviation Club, 9 October 1996