The RQ-4 Global Hawk fleet recently set a weekly flying hour record surpassing 781 combined flight hours in a single week, Northrop Grumman officials announced on Jan. 7. “The 2014 fiscal year was the most active yet for the Global Hawk, with a 40-percent year-over-year increase in flight hours,” company Global Hawk Director Mick Jaggers said in a release. “There are at least two Global Hawks in the air at all times providing indispensable [intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance] information to those that need it,” he added. Air Force RQ-4s flew 87 percent of the record week’s flying hours, while the Navy’s Broad Area Maritime Surveillance demonstrator, and NASA weather research Global Hawks flew the remainder, according to the company. The delivery of two Global Hawks—one each to Grand Forks AFB, N.D., and Beale AFB, Calif., last fall brings the total Air Force RQ-4 fleet to 33 aircraft, according to Northrop Grumman. The Air Force signed an agreement to purchase an additional four last August, which will be delivered in 2016 and 2017.
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.