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Northrop Grumman RQ-4 "Global Hawk"

Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV)

Unmanned, High-Altitude Surveillance.

Developed during the 1990s, the Tier II program was fast-tracked to fruition due to the events of September 11th, 2001. Today, the Northrop Grumman RQ-4 'Global Hawk' serves in the vital Intelligence-Surveillance-Reconnaissance (ISR) role for U.S. forces and its allies. Its high-altitude, turbofan-powered capabilities supply it the range and performance needed to cover swathes of territory from the relative safety of the skies. The RQ-4 platform remains in line to take over duties from the classic, Cold War-era Lockheed U-2 'Dragonlady' and will remain a fixture of American spying capabilities for the foreseeable future.
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Mission Roles

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Image from the U.S. DoD DVIDS imagery database; Public Release.
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Image from the U.S. DoD DVIDS imagery database; Public Release.
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Image from the U.S. DoD DVIDS imagery database; Public Release.
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Image from the U.S. DoD DVIDS imagery database; Public Release.
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Image from the U.S. DoD DVIDS imagery database; Public Release.


High-Resolution Surveillance

Advanced surveillance-oriented systems aboard Global Hawk provide for high-resolution results through Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) and long-range Electro-Optical/InfraRed (EO/IR) sensor fits - making the RQ-4 an all-in-one spying platform.

Turbofan Performance

The Global Hawk's single turbofan installation gives it combat warplane-like performance, allowing the platform to reach altitudes in excess of 60,000 feet and remain aloft for some 32 hours while reaching cruising speeds in the 350 mile-per-hour range.

Maturing Versatility

With nearly two decades of use under its belt, the Global Hawk product continues to mature as a surveillance platform, research-minded product (pictured), and a new overwater maritime solution ('Triton').

Anytime, Anywhere

The proven Global Hawk has become a critical cog in the USAF war machine where its ISR capability places it at the forefront of all spying actions.


Active, In-Service (23 yrs)
Northrop Grumman Corporation / Scaled Composites - USA
42 Units
5 Total

National flag graphic of Modern Germany / West GermanyNational flag graphic of JapanNational flag graphic of NATONational flag graphic of South KoreaNational flag graphic of the United States

Germany (Modern) (as 'Euro Hawk'); Japan (Modern) (ordered); South Korea; NATO; United States (USAF/NASA)

(List includes former, current, and potential operating nations)
RQ-4B Block 30/40: 1 x Rolls-Royce F137-RR-100 turbofan engine developing 7,600lb of thrust.

(Assuming optimal flying/environmental conditions)
Maximum Speed
391 mph | 630 kph | 340 kts
Cruising Speed
354 mph | 570 kph | 308 kts
Service Ceiling
59,055 ft | 18,000 m | 11.18 miles
Operational Range
14,155 miles | 22,780 km | 12,300 nm
(Showcased performance statistics pertain to the RQ-4B Block 30/40 production model)
47.57 feet (14.50 meters)
130.91 feet (39.90 meters)
15.42 feet (4.70 meters)
(Showcased measurements pertain to the RQ-4B Block 30/40 production model)
14,947 lb (6,780 kg)
32,254 lb (14,630 kg)
(Showcased weights pertain to the RQ-4B Block 30/40 production model)
None. Payload limited to mission equipment related to the ISR (Intelligence-Surveillance-Reconnaissance) role. Supported Types:

RQ-4 'Global Hawk' - Base Series Designation.
Tier II+ - Developmental Designation.
RQ-4A - Initial production model for USAF; 16 examples completed.
RQ-4B - Second production model; improved form with longer length (47.7 feet) and wider wingspan (130.9 feet); increased payload capability at cost of range.
RQ-4D - NATO operational model.
RQ-4E 'Euro Hawk' - German operational model of 2013; equipped for SIGINT with special reconnaissance systems from EADS.; five examples ordered, single unit received.
RQ-4N - Original designation of MQ-4C 'Triton' maritime patrol model.
MQ-4C 'Triton' - United States Navy maritime patrol model; 68 units planned for procurement.
EQ-4B - Global Hawk equipped with Battlefield Airborne Communications Node (BACN) system.
KQ-X - Autonomous tanker developmental system.
Model 396 - RQ-4A-based model by Northrop Grumman/Scaled Composites; armed variant with reduced size by 50%; proposed against General Atomics RQ-9 'Reaper' platform.

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