Northrop Grumman says the Air Force has granted the Block 20 and Block 30 variants of the RQ-4 Global Hawk unmanned reconnaissance aircraft military airworthiness certification after rigorous, thorough evaluation. In a release Nov. 20, the company said this represents a “significant milestone” for the Global Hawk and an important step on the path “to routine unmanned flight” within the US. According to the company, this certification verifies that the two models have met performance requirements to fly safely in national airspace and that their production configurations conform to their designs. This certification is the prerequisite for the FAA to grant these Global Hawks permission to fly within the US, said Northrop. In 2006, the smaller Global Hawk Block 10 aircraft became the first unmanned platform to earn both a military airworthiness certification and FAA approval to operate in the national airspace.
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.