Air Force News

Global Hawk to deploy to Australia

Released: 23 Nov 1999

by Sue Baker
Aeronautical Systems Center Public Affairs

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio (AFPN) -- The Global Hawk Unmanned Aerial Vehicle will be heading down under in April 2001, according to program officials.

This effort, called Stage 2, is part of a research and development agreement signed earlier this year between the U.S. and Australia to cooperatively develop and demonstrate Global Hawk's unique reconnaissance assets, according to Col. Craig McPherson, director, Global Hawk System Office, Reconnaissance Systems Program Office, Aeronautical Systems Center here.

"Stage 2 is a combined effort to develop, integrate and test new payload and ground element capabilities suited to the Australian operational environment," McPherson explained.

By the agreement, the U.S. is responsible for overall project and technical management of Stage 2 modifications, as well as all activities associated with deployment planning. Australia is responsible for development of a concept of operations for the demonstration, as well as providing funding and technical expertise to develop maritime surveillance and integrated ground segment capabilities.

Current plans are to fly the UAV nonstop across the Pacific, according to Dr. Don Sinnott, chief of surveillance systems for Australia's Defence Science and Technology Organisation, which is managing technical interchange on the joint program.

"The Global Hawk flight test program, led by the Air Force, is accumulating impressive achievements, and continuing to extend confidence in the reliability of this platform to undertake long-range, long-endurance reconnaissance missions," Sinnott said.

Numerous Global Hawk flights have now been made over long distances under civilian air traffic control -- including a multi-tasked mission from the West Coast to Alaska, and back which lasted more than 24 hours.

"We are looking forward to evaluating the system in the unusually wide and challenging variety of operating conditions, and the great distances, we have in Australia," Sinnott said.

According to Capt. Jon Wieland, project manager at the Global Hawk SPO, the Stage 2 project will expand use of the system's Integrated Sensor Suite, which, even in the advanced concept technology demonstration stage, can offer battlespace commanders exceptional, high-resolution, near-real-time reconnaissance imagery.

"Global Hawk already has demonstrated a tremendous capability as an airborne reconnaissance platform for land operations," Wieland said. "Our primary challenge in Stage 2 is to jointly develop and integrate unique, maritime surveillance modes into the ISS for the diverse and demanding missions in the Australian operational environment; incorporate interoperability modifications to the ground elements; and conduct total system testing prior to deployment."

The Stage 2 contract runs from this December through January of 2001, according to Wieland.

"Australia has spent approximately $600,000 on the Stage 1 portion of this partnership, and is funding Stage 2 at an amount up to $10 million U.S. The United States will fund Stage 3 at a level up to $10 million U.S., which includes deployment of the Global Hawk system to Australia and the execution of flight test trials there."

The project has three goals: to prove that Global Hawk is indeed 'global'; advance interoperability with coalition intelligence assets; and improve Global Hawk's maritime capabilities for joint operations, as well as potential U.S. Navy and U.S. Coast Guard missions, according to McPherson said.


* Aeronautical Systems Center
* Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio
* U.S. Coast Guard
* U.S. Navy