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Global Hawk program enters initial acquisition

by Sue Baker
Aeronautical Systems Center Public Affairs

03/22/01 - WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio (AFPN) - The Air Force's Global Hawk Unmanned Aerial Vehicle entered the first phase of formal defense system acquisition, known as the engineering, manufacturing and development phase, on March 6, according to program officials at the Aeronautical Systems Center here.

David Oliver, principal deputy under secretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics, signed the acquisition decision memorandum that gives Global Hawk, a high-altitude, long-endurance reconnaissance platform, approval to proceed into EMD. This document, which lays out the acquisition strategy, follows successful closure of the UAV's advanced concept technology demonstration phase.

"Now that we have DOD's concurrence, the Global Hawk UAV program can move into a 'spiral development' effort," said Col. Wayne Johnson, director of the Global Hawk division in ASC's Reconnaissance Systems Program Office. "This means that as we go along in the program, when additional funding and direction become available, we can always accelerate different capabilities. Our goal is to make Global Hawk even more versatile for the warfighter in the future, to do all types of different reconnaissance missions."

The first increment of Global Hawk's spiral development will include worldwide operations functionality in Global Air Navigation System/Global Air Traffic Management/Traffic Collision Avoidance System, as well as creating technical orders and training curricula, according to program officials.

The acquisition decision memorandum also authorizes delivery of the first two production aircraft in fiscal year '03, Johnson said. "We now are working toward Initial Operational Test and Evaluation and a Milestone III decision in fiscal year '04," he said.

Under EMD, both the Air Force and Northrop Grumman's Ryan Aeronautical Center, prime contractor based in San Diego, Calif., are responsible for development and production of the entire Global Hawk system, which is projected to range from $16 to $20 million per unit.

In late April, a UAV is scheduled to cross the Pacific Ocean for the first time, flying 7,500 miles and 22-plus hours un-refueled and nonstop to Royal Australian Air Force Edinburgh near Adelaide, Australia. While there, it will participate in a six-week, international joint-forces operation called "Tandem Thrust," a series of maritime and littoral (land-sea) exercises to demonstrate its military utility in concert with other airborne, land-based, and ocean-going forces.