Northrop Grumman Corporation’s RQ-4 RangeHawk is ready to support US hypersonic missile flight tests of the SkyRange program from its Grand Sky facility near Grand Forks, North Dakota.
SkyRange is the high-altitude, long-lived and responsive unmanned mobile flight test system from the Department of Defense Test Resource Management Center (TRMC),
In support of the SkyRange initiative, RQ-4B Global Hawk Block 20 and 30 aircraft are being transferred to TRMC to be reconfigured as RangeHawks. The conversion will integrate advanced payloads to equip the aircraft with the ability to withstand the testing of hypersonic vehicles and other long-range weapons. RangeHawks provide altitude, endurance and flexibility beyond the horizon, which are essential for collecting telemetry and other data to monitor the vehicle during hypersonic flight tests. Increasing hypersonic vehicle testing capability promotes the research and development needed to remain competitive on the global stage.
“Our RQ-4 RangeHawks will support the emerging class of hypersonic weapons and provide a combination of range, endurance and payload capability,” said Jane Bishop, vice president and general manager of global surveillance, Northrop Grumman. “These aircraft will continue their role in vital national security missions, allowing us to bring world-class aircraft design, modification, operations and maintenance work to the Grand Forks community.”
While previous tests relied on ship-based sensors, RangeHawks can carry out these missions with fewer assets, reducing cost and complexity. RangeHawks are equipped with sensors to demonstrate an alternative data collection support system for testing hypersonic systems and have participated in numerous hypersonic test events in the Pacific and elsewhere.
“SkyRange will enable the Department of Defense to accelerate our pace of testing hypersonic systems,” said George Rumford, acting director and deputy head of TRMC. “Northrop Grumman’s RangeHawk is ideal for collecting data, providing persistent time at the station positioned closest to the flight path and agility to adapt to the dynamics of a test environment – a force multiplier as we develop critical national security capabilities. .”
Northrop Grumman is also managing operations and maintenance of the RQ-4A RangeHawk prototype fleet in partnership with NASA at the Armstrong Flight Research Center at Edwards Air Force Base, as well as integrating new payloads for the future RQ-4B RangeHawk fleet.