The Global Hawk model displayed at the Paris Airshow on Tuesday was reconfigured overnight to represent the Broad Area Maritime Surveillance RQ-8N platform, selected by the U.S. Navy to be integrated with P-8 Poseidon manner maritime surveillance aircraft to replace current P-3 Orion aircraft.
The RQ-4N is scheduled to go through Functional Review this month, to be followed by Preliminary Design Review in December. First flight is scheduled for May 2012 with initial operational capability of a single unit supporting a single persistent orbit following two years later.
Full operational capability will be achieved when the Navy is able to support continuous orbits for worldwide access from five simultaneous threats. According to US Navy committed to Carl Johnson, Vice president at Northrop Grumman and program manager for BAMS, the aircraft employs some modifications to the baseline Block 30 Global Hawk, including deicing systems in the engine nacelle, wing and tail leading edges.
Two common datalinks (CDl) terminals are located at the lower tail, comprising two 9 inch Ku and X band terminals to link with lower flying aircraft and surface vessels. The SATCOM radome accommodates the satellite data link, operating in Ka and X bands. The aircraft is fitted with due regard radar facilitating safe separation and support future requirements to operation in controlled airspace. The Multi-Function Active Sensor (MFAS) AESA rotating radar and high performance MTS-B electro-optical payload, comprising the basic Maritime ISR sensor suite.
To accommodate the radar, RQ-4N employs raised landing gear to elevate the fuselage, clearing the belly mounted MFAS radar. The aircraft will also be equipped with an automatic identification system, providing cooperative identification of friendly vessels, based on transponder interrogation. According to Johnson, AIS will significantly reduce the workload to identify many unknown targets. In addition to supporting the platform and primary payloads, the U.S. Navy has already committed to both communications Relay and the Merlin electronic support measures to be implemented in follow on Increments.