WASHINGTON, November 13 (RIA Novosti) — The US Department of Defense signed a $306 million contract to continue logistics and sustainment services for the RQ-4 Global Hawk, an advanced intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance unmanned aircraft, defense contractor Northrop Grumman has said.
"The new agreement continues an existing contract for Global Hawk maintenance, inventory management, parts procurement and other tasks necessary to ensure the availability of the Global Hawk unmanned aircraft system. This includes the aircraft as well as mission control elements and forward operating location support," Northrop Grumman said in a statement.
Bill Walker, Business Development Lead for the Global Hawk program, told RIA Novosti that the contract includes maintenance and servicing of the aircraft, sensors, and mission control elements (MCE), the ground facilities to control Global Hawk operations.
"From an MCE, pilots and sensor operators direct the aircraft and sensors for the intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance missions. The system is operated from the main operating bases and the aircraft are based at several forward operating bases to provide worldwide coverage for all six combatant commanders," Walker said.
The Global Hawk provides signals intelligence, imagery intelligence and radar to support US military combat and noncombat operations around the globe. It has been used in antiterrorism and antipiracy operations, as well as humanitarian and disaster response operations.
The US Air Force has 33 RQ-4 Global Hawks in its fleet. The drones are based out of Beale Air Force Base, California, and the Grand Forks AFB, North Dakota, as well as from operational centers globally.
The contract, started on October 1, 2014, and scheduled to go through September 30 of next year, applies to the entire US Air Force Global Hawk fleet.