Northrop Grumman announced that, for the first time, an RQ-4 Global Hawk Block 40 remotely piloted aircraft completed a full system flight with the Multi-Platform Radar Technology Insertion Program, or MP-RTIP, sensor. MP-RTIP is a sophisticated radar jointly produced by Northrop and Raytheon. Now designated the AN/ZPY-2, it’s designed to simultaneously track moving ground targets and provide synthetic aperture radar imagery in all weather conditions, day or night. George Guerra, Northrop’s vice president for high-altitude, long-endurance systems, called the MP-RTIP-equipped Global Hawk “the natural evolution of the [RQ-4] program’s advanced technology in providing invaluable intelligence, reconnaissance, and surveillance capabilities for both military and domestic applications.” The flight took place July 21 at Edwards AFB, Calif., according to the company. The Air Force plans to procure 11 Block 40 aircraft and station them at Grand Forks AFB, N.D. (See also MP-RTIP Sensor Arrives at Edwards.)
The Air Force overall reduced its size by 120 aircraft in fiscal year 2021, but kept about the same number of fighter, bomber and attack aircraft, according to data supplied by the service. The F-35 fleet saw the biggest increase while the B-1B bomber fleet saw the largest decline.