New Pastures for Block 10 Global Hawks

The Air Force completely retired its Block 10 Global Hawk fleet earlier this year, passing all seven airframes to the Navy and NASA. “They were used in a lot of roles that the Air Force never thought about as they were fielding this system,” said Bill Walker, Northrop Grumman’s Global Hawk business development manager. Deployed in support of US Central Command in 2006, the Block 10 fleet accrued nearly 35,000 flight hours gathering imagery and intelligence over the CENTCOM area of operations, Walker noted in a briefing at the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International convention in Washington D.C., Aug. 16. Those Block 10 birds were replaced with more capable Block 30 aircraft in May. With 75 percent of designed airframe life remaining, three Block 10s will enter Navy service as a stop-gap until the MQ-4C Broad Area Maritime Surveillance aircraft enters service in 2015. The Navy has operated two Global Hawks in the Persian Gulf since 2006, and three additional Global Hawks will allow “them to expand those operations,” said Walker. Two of the remaining aircraft will join NASA’s research fleet.