Air Force and Northrop Grumman officials officially unveiled the Block 40 RQ-4 Global Hawk unmanned aerial vehicle at the company’s Palmdale, Calif., facility June 25. It is the first of 15 aircraft in the latest iteration of the high-flying reconnaissance UAV and includes the multi-platform radar technology insertion program (MP-RTIP) sensor. USAF expects to begin fielding the Block 40 aircraft at Grand Forks AFB, N.D., next year. In a company release, Duke Dufresne, sector vice president for Northrop’s strike and surveillance systems division, said that with the new sensor, which just completed initial testing last month, “the Block 40 aircraft will provide game-changing situational awareness for our warfighters with its unprecedented capability to detect, track, and identify stationary and moving targets.” The aircraft, AF-18, is slated to begin flight tests in July.
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.