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Global Hawk...re-design?

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posted on Sep, 10 2006 @ 06:31 PM
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What is the point of the re-design of the Global Hawk?

The first version of it was called RQ-4A, the new one is called RQ-4B.

The difference: Stealthier...No / Faster...No / Cheaper...No / Weaponized...No. It has the same cieling, engine, & endurance.

The difference is its bigger, the previous wing span was 116ft, the new one is 131ft. Its payload (camera's and sensors...not bombs) went up from 2,000 lbs to 3000 lbs, and provides 50% more electrical power.

If thats the only difference...then that was a pretty big waste of money.





posted on Sep, 11 2006 @ 02:14 AM
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Murcielago,

>>
What is the point of the re-design of the Global Hawk?
>>

The RQ-4B mission equipment package is being expanded to support MP-RTIP as a potential replacement for the E-10 (and E-3 and E-8 as HDLD 'brittle swords') as well as 'Multi-INT' to allow the airframe to more completely standin for the Senior Spear/Ruby/Glass configured U-2S so that that aircraft can be retired as well.

More system weight means more airfoil for the same grazing angle and altitude sustainment and a different electrical generator for the required KVA.

The overall effect is one of preparing the airframe to improve it's contribution to the NCW and Maritime Support (GHMD) mission so that, overland, forces can gain more lookin (faster update from overlapping swaths, including AEW&C/ADSAM missions) while, at-sea, there will be less exposure and again, more flexible tasking/loiter coverage inherent to a mix of P-8 and RQ-4 assets running a combined high-low game against threats that have no intention of playing by the rules of international airspace free range ELINT.

>>
The first version of it was called RQ-4A, the new one is called RQ-4B.

The difference: Stealthier...No / Faster...No / Cheaper...No / Weaponized...No. It has the same cieling, engine, & endurance.

The difference is its bigger, the previous wing span was 116ft, the new one is 131ft. Its payload (camera's and sensors...not bombs) went up from 2,000 lbs to 3000 lbs, and provides 50% more electrical power.
>>

Depends on what source you read, the NorGrumman blurb on the updated airframe seems to suggest that while absolute performance has gone down in both ceiling and flight time (from 65 to 60K and 40 odd to 30 something hours); /on station/ sortie times have crept up a bit from 32 to 36 hours effective while maintaining an on-station loiter of 24hrs at distances of some 1,200nm.

Given you are sucking more gas to run the electrical generation (up _150%_) in an airframe which cannot help but generate more drag on a thicker, stiffer, airfoil; this isn't too bad a deal. Kind've like the switch up from the U-2C to the U-2R.

>>
If thats the only difference...then that was a pretty big waste of money.
>>

It seems I myself recall the glory days of (Cue Card Reads: Laugh Now) 'nascent UAV political power'. When the Air Services at least paid lipservice to a Congressionally ordered mandate to largely convert to unmanned strike and reconnaissance with 1/3rd of the force structure to be uninhabited no later than 2010.

Depending on how you evaluate cruise missiles and given the pathetic showing inherent to the TARS and F-18D(R), I suppose even that could be lie-truthfully 'subject to interpretation'.

In any case, at that time, AvLeak took great pride in showing off cover photos of GHawks with secondary MEP gondolas under each wing and it was acknowledged that the aircraft had at least two inactive hardpoints available for what were speculated to be ATBM systems similar to the Raptor Talon (EKV/ASAS) mechanical TBM-D interceptors or perhaps a rapid response (FRSW) suppression weapon.

Then they gave it the kiss of death as a notionally labelled 'national asset' which is more or less the Godivan equivalent of Peeping Tom popping up with an Uzi.

As proven when a worthless yutz in an EP-3E got to 'playing Thunderbird' with a Chinese Red Baron before deciding to put down said NA platform onto enemy soil rather than go swimming like his uniform and mission papers should have made obvious as the only option.

Now that we have a war on, not much has changed with that self same 'military is in charge' attitude of elitist self-defeating policies. As the Hawk and other UM assets are still marginalized (both in purchase numbers:year and mission support) in favor of the unwritten manned community law 'that an ape must hold the stick from within the airframe if it is to be bought in numbers adequate to the role it serves'.

As well you would expect in a GWOT condition where they are the only experts trusted to lose the war at maximum expense.

Last I heard, '7 years later', we had 7 + 17 building of an asset whose original cost was about 25-35 million for the airframe when first revealed and is now about 144 million 'for the complete package'. Nothing near what the requirement should be and indeed far less than what even the Dragon Lady came in at.

That the RQ-4 is funded singly at a time in terms of MCE/LRE and Airframe package acquisition and even forward deployment under Contractor support to 'unnamed' theaters is probably most telling however.

As it means that the AF/CIA handholding has resumed as further evidence of the disenfranchising of the regular forces from the full benefit of HALE UAVs.

IMO, proving yet another case of a corrupt MIC playing hob with what works until it doesn't and they have an excuse to take a giant leap backwards, straight into cockpit airpower.

That rasping noise you hear being the sound of one hand washing another in thousand dollar bills.


KPl.



posted on Sep, 11 2006 @ 04:58 PM
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1000 pounds of equipment is quite significant. These are usually used for observation and electronic warfar are they not?



posted on Sep, 11 2006 @ 05:13 PM
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Originally posted by Murcielago
What is the point of the re-design of the Global Hawk?

The first version of it was called RQ-4A, the new one is called RQ-4B.

The difference: Stealthier...No / Faster...No / Cheaper...No / Weaponized...No. It has the same cieling, engine, & endurance.

The difference is its bigger, the previous wing span was 116ft, the new one is 131ft. Its payload (camera's and sensors...not bombs) went up from 2,000 lbs to 3000 lbs, and provides 50% more electrical power.

If thats the only difference...then that was a pretty big waste of money.



Why does anything considered an improvement have to be faster, stealthier, cheaper and/or weaponized?
Is the purpose of the Global Hawk to be a supersonic platform? No.
Is it the purpose of the Global Hawk to be stealthy? It is "low-observable" but not considered "stealth", it in fact is not a requirement.
Are technology improvements EVER cheaper? No.
And weaponization of the Global Hawk is so far not allowed.

I guess to enthusiasts who want every new acquisition to be as sexy as the mythical "Aurora" - the fact that the Global Hawk has no bombs onboard, is not stealthy, is not a hypersonic screamer and is not a penny cheaper makes it a liability rather than an asset. This is a very short-sighted view of the need for ISR aerospace assets.

The Block 20's sensor payload is 1,000 lbs larger, it's endurance/loiter time is extended and the command links are more secure. It's dish in the bulbous nose section is larger with greater signal clarity and range.
The purpose of the Global Hawk is to loiter on station and gather as much intel in as much detail as possible. Not streak across the sky at Mach 5 and get a quick little SAR snapshot.

The Global Hawk has an enhanced ISR suite with SAR, IRS, Electro-Optical sensing with 50% more range thanks to a generator providing 150% more power.
This enhanced suite provides high res, high quality imaging in the most adverse of elements and it's newly revised loiter time / cruising speed enables it to travel 1,200+ miles, loiter on station for 24 plus hours at 65,000 ft - conducting highly detailed surveillance in multiple spectrums over an area the size of Illinois, then return the 1,200+ miles to home base, all the while feeding intelligence via secure sat link to commanders anywhere in the world.

At no time is a man at risk, while sitting in a cramped pilot seat as there would be with a U-2 and a U-2 certainly can't stay on station as long as a GH.

With Kurt's (CH1466) comments I'm left in wonder. In threads where the F-35 is concerned he writes lengthy disertations on why we need UAV's and how the Air Force is controlled by the "Figher Mafia" - and then you get to a thread such as this where it is announced that the capabilities are being enhanced of what is arguably the premier UAV, the Global Hawk and suddenly the evil Military Industrial Complex is somehow bilking the taxpayers by "playing hob with what works until it doesn't". It's seems to be a no win situation where CH1466 is concerned.

Those of us who work for the evil Military Industrial Complex actually think this enhancement of the GH is a good thing and satifactorily fills the requirement of our client, As will the Block 30 and Block 40.

I guess the fact that I see this enhancement as a good thing no doubt makes me out to be either a blind blithering idiot or a mindless drone of the MIC...

So be it~



posted on Sep, 11 2006 @ 06:44 PM
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"I guess the fact that I see this enhancement as a good thing no doubt makes me out to be either a blind blithering idiot or a mindless drone of the MIC... "

No, it means your proud of your work, and rightly so, and have a balanced view of keeping a pilot out of harms way if it can be done by a UAV.

I'd buy you a crate of beer if I lived in the USA. But I don't, so i'll cheer you from here !!

Oh and thank you for the awesome snap shot of a good use for a mach 5 recce bird...SAR...very good thinking indeedy...



posted on Sep, 11 2006 @ 08:42 PM
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Intelgurl - With the things like "faster" I was not implying this should be a supersonic platform, I was simply stating that this all new airframe has basically the same specs.

I think the big one, is stealth.
Why not make it super stealthy? make it a platform thats able to fly over Iran without them knowing.(?)

I understand aircraft that over time getting better things (IE:Avionics), but I dont know if I agree with building a new aircraft, just for a little more power & payload.



posted on Sep, 12 2006 @ 12:17 AM
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Originally posted by Murcielago
Intelgurl - With the things like "faster" I was not implying this should be a supersonic platform, I was simply stating that this all new airframe has basically the same specs.

I think the big one, is stealth.
Why not make it super stealthy? make it a platform thats able to fly over Iran without them knowing.(?)

I understand aircraft that over time getting better things (IE:Avionics), but I dont know if I agree with building a new aircraft, just for a little more power & payload.

First off, the Global Hawk Block 20 is not a ground up rebuild or an "all new airframe" - much of the aircraft's structure remains the same allowing many of the same parts to be used, thus saving millions in development costs.

The Global Hawk like the U-2 of today (as opposed to Soviet era Gary Powers missions) is not intended to fly unfriendly skies. It is intended to fly where air defense has already been supressed.

It is no secret that there are US aerospace assets for clandestine ISR work utilizing low observable sensors, what exactly those assets are and how they perform their duties is not information for public consumption.

Links:
US sends spy planes to 'sniff out' Iran's nuclear plants; The Telegraph
Iran: U.S. Drones Spy On Nukes; CBS News
A relatively recent advance in UAV technology; San Francisco Indy Media
UFO Sightings over Iranian nuclear installations; The Persian Journal


Global Hawk & Stealth?

Although the Global Hawk is indeed a low observable airframe it has an extremely potent SAR onboard, this SAR will light up enemy sensors from hundreds of miles away.

The GH will never be stealthy as long as it is illuminating such a vast territory with it's sensor suite. One may ask the question; Why go to the expense and time to research and develop a stealthy Global Hawk if it's sensors are going to literally light it up like a Christmas tree to every passive air defense sniffer and S-300/400 system within a hundred miles?
(Now that truly would be a waste of taxpayer's money.)

Simply put, clandestine ISR is not the intended use of the Global Hawk. Stand-off ISR and ISR over controlled skies is the purpose of the GH. Persistence, range, quality and quantity of minutely detailed intel is why the Global Hawk is so desired by foriegn governments and such an asset to the US.



[edit on 9-12-2006 by intelgurl]



posted on Sep, 12 2006 @ 12:56 AM
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Thanks...You pretty much answered all my questions.



posted on Sep, 12 2006 @ 01:07 AM
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As someone who was there when SAC and TAC merged to become ACC, even the most diehard SAC trained killer(me) could see the hand writing on the wall for the heavy strategic bomber after Desert Storm. Even as flexible a weapons platform that the mighty BUFF is the cost to benefit ratio is always going to favor the fighter as a weapons deliver platform. When SAC dominated the USAF in the early 60's, they were more medium bombers then there are tactical fighters now. Special weapons are much smaller now. Guided weapons have now reached the long awaited promise of surgical strikes with small collateral damage.
Global Hawk B will probably replace the very long in the tooth U-2's as the long range intratheatre strategic recon platform. I saw a very interesting proposal a few years ago the would convert the F16 and other current tactical fighter platforms with stealthier wings and weapons bays into UCAV's. Without a pilot and his life support equipment, losing the cannon, the range of current fighter would be increased and with the latest skinny bombs, the aircraft could destroy more target per sortie than current manned paltforms. They also proposed a similar tactical recon UAV platform based on the same designs.



posted on Sep, 13 2006 @ 10:48 PM
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IG,

>>
With Kurt's (CH1466) comments I'm left in wonder. In threads where the F-35 is concerned he writes lengthy disertations on why we need UAV's and how the Air Force is controlled by the "Figher Mafia" - and then you get to a thread such as this where it is announced that the capabilities are being enhanced of what is arguably the premier UAV, the Global Hawk and suddenly the evil Military Industrial Complex is somehow bilking the taxpayers by "playing hob with what works until it doesn't". It's seems to be a no win situation where CH1466 is concerned.
>>

Now, now, don't go getting all 'wondrous' on me, I might think you were being sardonic and have to start calling you //Iggy// in retaliation..

If you _read_ what I said, I am disappointed by the SLOW rate of production and standup by which the GHawk is being deliberately niche-marginalized as an inventoried asset numbering far less than the 60-100 airframes it needs to be, even as 'only' a U-2 replacement.

The lag is raising the non-recurrent price (7.5 million and counting) even as the funding mode is encouraging subcontractors to bid to the moment rather than a multiyear total procurement plan. If this had been a QRC equivalent 'necessary' capability, Teledyne Ryan or NorGrumman would have had funding for a new factory floor if need be be gain a rapid production capability sufficient to fulfill our needs as well as those of our erstwhile 'Allies'.

Instead whatever gains the GHawk brings to the table are being lost in a hurry-up-slowly paper trail of 'similar' also-ran systems which are the only useful options for GWOT and which the USAF doesn't want because they are afraid that they will be proven good for 'real wars' too.

What is particularly troublesome are the conjoined notions of calling it a 'national asset' and one whose one-at-a-time purchase and individually contracted forward deployment to 'undisclosed locations' speaks to 1960s doctrines which compartmentalized rather than expanded the intel database away from the hands of the warfighter and, ultimately, even the strategic decision makers. Vanishing instead into the dark labyrinths of the intelligence community.

This of course suits the BSM just fine because it doesn't humiliate them as an illustration in what netcentrics can do with persistent presence as an _armed_ ISR function.

Indeed, the only way to break the mold on how much good the GHawk can do 'daily' is also the one which most requires it to expand it's mission set beyond that presently being 'roadmapped' to. And that cannot be allowed. Because manned systems cannot compete.

The E-10 is presently cancelled but it WILL make a comeback if the Air Search mode of the RQ-4 RTIP is not validated. Indeed what use then a mere ISR asset good for nothing which 'even an E-8C' can do at twice the cost and half the depth?

Similarly, the P-8 will run over the UAV portion of BAMS if it comes down to an either-or down selection and the the requirements for ARMING a Maritime Patrol asset are not given full full due in the GHawk spec.

What good is a Navy GHawk which cannot forward station to suppress-on-launch with TBM/IRBM in their most vulnerable fall-back phase right off the pad? Is it because the notion of a UAV doing a 'dull, dumb, dirty, dangerous' job so that 'real warriors' can get on with bombing empty buildings is too aggressive? Seven years later they haven't come to a conclusion about this. Preferring instead to creep along.

You know what my view of the UAV vs. UCAV debate is. The RQ-4/SAR combination is a swath platform like any other SLAR ship. The numbers sound impressive (one 40,000 square mile strip at 1m resolution or two 1,900 square mile patchs at .3m 'every 24hrs' IIRR) but they are merely a lie of statistics.

For when you are looking for a fleeting threat asset which may or may not be present 'under the beam' when it passes overhead, how much empty void you look at 'instead' is not really important.

And as soon as the system becomes becomes a specific force protection/objective targeting system, it is longer a free ranging independent ISR system but a specifically tasked support mission. i.e. No ground force, no focussed targeting. No focussed targeting and you are back to sifting straw looking for the needle.

Comparitively, even an APY-8 equipped UCAV might only be able to do the equivalent of shining a flashlight at it's own feet. But because it is the _mosaic image_ which that spotlight and a thousand others like it creates that matters; allowing a jet speed and half-loiter time asset to BE MANY PLACES which, _by cost_, if not labelling, the RQ-4 cannot match in terms of seeing unexpected activity at a place far from the active front. Or looking back from the wrong side of a border looking for streams of people wandering out of a needle passes as they flee a fight they should not have started.

All things which the RQ-4, by it's 'National Asset' status is not able to even attempt to actively mission-prosecute. Whether it is LO or not.

Speaking of which, if an NA is expected to go where there is no defense suppression and the enemy 'never heard' of Open Skies equivalent monitoring rights in international airspace. And yet this same asset cannot operate in scenarios where it is looking a couple hundred km into a given area from _across a secured fence_ with all of tacair supporting it, what good is it again? Compared to the 100 knot drones which go in for specific realtime, designating of those same IADS sites with ZERO stealth. Or a genuine LO asset which is 5 times as fast and armed with standoff weapons to prosecute the SHARK hits with equal or better sensors that it only uses intermittently before moving on?

>>
Those of us who work for the evil Military Industrial Complex actually think this enhancement of the GH is a good thing and satifactorily fills the requirement of our client, As will the Block 30 and Block 40.
>>

Oh yeah, pick a fight in the absence of stated context and then force me to prove the negative. How typical. I disapprove of lying about what the GHawk is and how it is being procured for an intended mission set which is NOT useful in any immediate way to the tactical warfighter. And you start to cry like I kicked your damn dog. 'Only a hero' of the defense industry if someone cheers you on eh?

>>
I guess the fact that I see this enhancement as a good thing no doubt makes me out to be either a blind blithering idiot or a mindless drone of the MIC...

So be it~
>>

To stay on topic, the RQ-4, when not playing at being a 'national asset' (too few to lose) is STILL not a mission platform designed to help win the small scale tactical war, so much as a theater commanders _very narrow_ telescopic view into an MRC/MTW which he can task to his golden-boy units for their specific protection ONLY at the expense of general surveillance on TCTs which may be lethal from much father away than the unit in question can prosecute, even if they know they are there.

Given that the last time we had positive intel on Osama and the 'three trails' shell game in January or March 2003, where was the Jet Speed UAV that had look down sufficient to keep all three passes covered at once with enough knots to transit to a LAR for an IAM? What building had just had an airplane run into it that the GHawk could not be on the scene and only ONE Predator was taskable?

It has been SEVEN YEARS since JTFEX 'sealed the deal'; if GHawk is all that then there should have been a crash program to field it in useful numbers within a valid expanded mission set. There can only be one reason behind the developmental lag (and the constant roll back of the U-2 retirement dates and less than 60 Predators and and and). _Business as usual_ in the All Manned, All The Time, '(NT)ISR is our business now too!' community.


KPl.

[edit on 14-9-2006 by ch1466]



posted on Sep, 13 2006 @ 11:01 PM
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Why does this craft have such long and skinny wings? It looks weird and I don't understand why? I can see where payload is very important even for a plane like this though which refutes the OP.



posted on Sep, 14 2006 @ 01:42 AM
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I would have to say that the aerodynamics of this wing was better to the one previously used. You'd have to see a comparison in a full scale wind tunnel to know why.



posted on Sep, 14 2006 @ 04:23 AM
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Originally posted by denythestatusquo
Why does this craft have such long and skinny wings? It looks weird and I don't understand why? I can see where payload is very important even for a plane like this though which refutes the OP.


Even though this a powered aircraft, the longer and narrower the wing can be within mechanical engineer limits, the better glide ratio it will have. Glide ratio is defined by how far foward a vehicle will travel in comparison with the rate of descent. That why modern gliders have such long thin wings. On a powered craft, this will extend the range of the aircraft when compared to other wings designs. With the increased payload of the Globalhawk B, a longer wing was necessary to maintain the aircraft's range, altitude and loitering capability.



posted on Sep, 14 2006 @ 10:35 PM
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Originally posted by ch1466
Oh yeah, pick a fight in the absence of stated context and then force me to prove the negative ... And you start to cry like I kicked your damn dog. 'Only a hero' of the defense industry if someone cheers you on eh?
[edit on 14-9-2006 by ch1466]

I suppose I should thank you for editing out your derogatory remarks concerning my gender - which actually didn't surprise me at all.


Originally posted by ch1466
If you _read_ what I said...

And that seems to be a universal problem here, for in order to "_read_" and interpret what you write we the readers (most of whom are laymen) have to wade through a cacophony of milspeak, acronyms, off the wall metaphors, numerous rabbit trails and long-winded 10,000+ character banal ramblings and somehow piece together a general outline of the message you intended to convey.

And incredibly through all of that you are offended to the point of personal insults (now edited out) that someone would misinterpret your cyber-meanderings.

I'm soooo totally impressed...


Originally posted by ch1466
IMO, proving yet another case of a corrupt MIC playing hob with what works until it doesn't and they have an excuse to take a giant leap backwards, straight into cockpit airpower.

I still have a problem with this if you mean the industry as opposed to the military itself. Plus, is the following statement a contradiction of the above statement or is it further defining it in context?


Originally posted by ch1466
I am disappointed by the SLOW rate of production and standup by which the GHawk is being deliberately niche-marginalized as an inventoried asset numbering far less than the 60-100 airframes it needs to be, even as 'only' a U-2 replacement.

The fact that the GH is being produced in such small numbers is not the fault nor the desire of the industry (Northrop) but rather the Pentagon, Langley and Congress.





[edit on 9-15-2006 by intelgurl]



posted on Sep, 14 2006 @ 10:39 PM
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Originally posted by crgintx
Glide ratio is defined by how far foward a vehicle will travel in comparison with the rate of descent. That why modern gliders have such long thin wings. On a powered craft, this will extend the range of the aircraft when compared to other wings designs. With the increased payload of the Globalhawk B, a longer wing was necessary to maintain the aircraft's range, altitude and loitering capability.


thanks for the info, I should have seen the relation to gliders and now I see it. Thus this change is not about performance in the sense we normally talk about it then. This is more about efficiency over performance.



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