The RQ-4 RangeHawks embark on a new mission


Northrop Grumma’s RQ-4 RangeHawk is ready to support flight testing of US hypersonic missiles from the SkyRange program from its Grand Sky facility near Grand Forks, ND

SkyRange is the Department of Defense Test Resource Management Center’s high-altitude, long-endurance, responsive mobile flight test system,
In support of the SkyRange initiative, Global Hawk Block 20 and 30 RQ-4B aircraft are being transferred to TRMC to be reconfigured as RangeHawks. The conversion will incorporate advanced payloads to equip the aircraft with the capability to support testing of hypersonic vehicles and other long-range weapons. RangeHawks provide altitude, endurance and flexibility above the horizon, which are essential for collecting telemetry and other data to monitor the vehicle during flight testing. Increasing hypersonic vehicle testing capacity is driving the research and development needed to stay competitive in the global landscape.

“Our RQ-4 RangeHawks will support the emerging class of hypersonic weapons and provide a combination of range, endurance and payload capacity,” said Jane Bishop, vice president and general manager, global surveillance, Northrop Grumman. “These aircraft will continue to play their role in vital national security missions while allowing us to bring world-class aircraft design, modification, operation and sustainment work to the community of Grand Forks. .”

While previous tests relied on on-board sensors, RangeHawks can perform such 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 several 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 Senior Deputy, TRMC. “Northrop Grumman’s RangeHawk is ideally suited for collecting data by providing persistent time-and-display positioned closer to the flight path and agility to adapt to the dynamics of a test environment – a force multiplier to as we evolve in critical national security capabilities.”

Northrop Grumman also manages the operations and sustainment of the RQ-4A RangeHawk prototype fleet in partnership with NASA at the Armstrong Flight Research Center at Edwards Air Force Base, California, as well as the integration of new payloads for the future fleet. RQ-4B RangeHawk.

Northrop Grumman supports many critical systems to connect every service across multiple domains while advancing aeronautics to help ensure defense forces stay one step ahead of their adversaries. As a recognized pioneer in autonomous systems, Northrop Grumman’s current and future platforms are groundbreaking for deterring and engaging adversaries on the battlefield.


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