Northrop Grum­man’s Global Hawk pro­gramme se­lected for USAF Sus­tain­ment Ex­cel­lence Award


The US Air Force RQ-4 Global Hawk un­manned air­craft pro­gramme was re­cently awarded the 2012 Dr James G. Roche Sus­tain­ment Ex­cel­lence Award for demon­strat­ing the most im­proved per­for­mance in air­craft main­te­nance and lo­gis­tics readi­ness. Northrop Grum­man Cor­po­ra­tion is the prime con­trac­tor for the high-fly­ing fleet of Global Hawks.

“Even with a year marked with fis­cal chal­lenges and height­ened op­er­a­tions tempo, the Global Hawk government-in­dus­try team was able to in­crease air­craft mis­sion ca­pa­bil­ity by 26 per cent in fis­cal year 2012. This in­crease al­lowed the Global Hawk team to ex­e­cute and fly more than 13,400 hours last year,” said Ge­orge Guerra, Vice Pres­i­dent of the Global Hawk pro­gramme for Northrop Grum­man’s Aero­space Sys­tems sec­tor. “This pres­ti­gious award sig­ni­fies that the en­tire team is con­stantly striv­ing to im­prove in ev­ery area and do­ing ev­ery­thing we can to sup­port US and al­lied troops.”

Echo­ing the pro­gramme’s marked per­for­mance im­prove­ments is the re­cently re­leased di­rec­tor, Op­er­a­tional Test and Eval­u­a­tion an­nual report to the Sec­re­tary of De­fense. The ex­ten­sive report high­lights the Global Hawk’s mis­sion-ca­pa­ble rate, which rose from ap­prox­i­mately 52 per cent in fis­cal year 2011 to nearly 78 per cent in 2012, while ex­ceed­ing the Air Force’s goal for 19 con­sec­u­tive months.

“Con­grat­u­la­tions to Northrop Grum­man for en­sur­ing our warfight­ers are equipped with a sys­tem that is ready and avail­able when they need it,” said Colonel Car­lin Heimann, Global Hawk sys­tem Pro­gram Di­rec­tor for the US Air Force. “It is en­cour­ag­ing to be recog­nised at Air Force lev­els for the con­tri­bu­tions this team makes to im­prov­ing Global Hawk re­li­a­bil­ity and sus­tain­abil­ity. This will al­ways be a joint government-con­trac­tor ef­fort and to­gether we earned this award, which is a re­minder that we have our pri­or­i­ties right.”

In 2004, the Air Force Chief of Staff ap­proved the award, named for the 20th sec­re­tary of the Air Force, to pro­mote main­te­nance ex­cel­lence. Air Force of­fi­cials de­ter­mine the award re­cip­i­ents by cal­cu­lat­ing the im­prove­ments for a pre­de­ter­mined set of met­rics and mul­ti­ply­ing each met­ric by a cor­re­spond­ing weighted value. The award will be pre­sented at a date and lo­ca­tion to be de­ter­mined.

Ca­pa­ble of fly­ing for more than 30 hours at an al­ti­tude over 60,000 feet, Global Hawk pro­vides de­ci­sion-mak­ers with near­real-time in­tel­li­gence, sur­veil­lance and re­con­nais­sance, and pro­vides warfight­ers with un­matched com­mu­ni­ca­tions re­lay ca­pa­bil­i­ties. It con­tin­ues to fly mis­sions around the world, ac­cu­mu­lat­ing more than 88,000 to­tal flight hours, 80 per cent of which were flown in com­bat in sup­port of overseas con­tin­gency op­er­a­tions. A to­tal of 37 Global Hawks have been de­liv­ered to the Air Force, with ad­di­tional air­craft sched­uled for de­liv­ery this year.

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