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Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Northrop to receive $4bn worth of Global Hawk work through 2020

U2 Dragon Lady & RQ-4 Global HawkThe US Air Force plans to award Northrop Grumman contracts valued at $4 billion to sustain and modernize the RQ-4 Global Hawk over the next five years as the high-flying unmanned aircraft emerges from the shadow of potential retirement into a normalised defence programme.

The awards would follow a protracted debate in Washington over whether the spying variant of the RQ-4 should be retired in favor of the manned alternative – Lockheed Martin’s U-2 Dragon Lady – which saw Northrop’s Global Hawk Block 30 programme dropped from the air force’s budget plan for fiscal 2013.

Now, with funding restored and milestone C approval from the Pentagon, the programme office based in Ohio wants to put the Global Hawk’s tumultuous acquisition history behind it and move the unmanned spy plane purchase into the operations and support phase, with just three more Block 30s left to deliver.

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