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GLOBAL HAWKS PILE UP COMBAT HOURS.

Byline: Jim Skeen Staff Writer

PALMDALE - The Palmdale-built Global Hawk reconnaissance aircraft has logged more than 4,000 hours of combat flying time supporting the war on terrorism, the aircraft's prime contractor announced Monday.

Northrop Grumman Corp.'s Global Hawk reached the 4,000 combat-hours mark on March 23.

The unmanned Global Hawks have been in combat service steadily since 2001, program officials said.

Overall, Global Hawk aircraft have racked up more than 6,500 total flight hours.

Controlled by onboard computers, the RQ-4A Global Hawk is a high-altitude aircraft capable of staying over a target area for hours at a time. The aircraft can capture and transmit high-quality images of targets and terrain without exposing a pilot to risk.

Global Hawk aircraft have been used to support combat operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. During the coalition's push into Iraq, Global Hawk aircraft provided 55 percent of the images of military targets.

The Defense Department launched a program in 2001 to develop and produce the aircraft, initially a technology demonstration program in the 1990s.

So far, 14 Global Hawk aircraft have been built. Three have been lost in crashes, including two supporting combat operations in Afghanistan.

A larger Global Hawk, designated as RQ-4B, is being developed to carry even bigger loads of reconnaissance equipment. The new B models will be able to carry 3,000 pounds of equipment, compared with the 2,000-pound capacity of the A models.

There are four B model aircraft in various stages of production in Palmdale.

Jim Skeen, (661) 267-5743

james.skeen(at)dailynews.com
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Apr 5, 2005
Words:260
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