The Block 10 Global Hawk unmanned aircraft from Northrop Grumman has completed its contract period at the US Air Force. The last of the seven Block 10 aircrafts ended its mission in May with a total of 7,650 flying hours, of which 7,000 and more hours were spent for combat troop surveillance.
The first flight of Block 10 aircraft commenced in September 2003. During the past eight years, the Block 10 aircraft has flown for 2,141 missions with a total of 35,528 flying hours. Of this 89% flying hours were spent for the combat operation support. Additionally, the aircrafts were used for disaster response teams operating in earthquakes, forest fires, floods and hurricanes. The aircrafts were also used for the US Counter Drug Mission.
Of the seven fully operational Block 10 aircrafts, two have been transferred to be displayed statically in museums and three have been transferred to the US Navy to be used in their Broad Area Maritime Surveillance Demonstration (BAMS-D) program. The US Navy has awarded the $35.5 million annual BAMS-D aircraft operation and maintenance contract to Northrop Grumman in August. The other aircrafts will be transferred to various government agencies.
The US Air Force had initially placed an order for nine Block 10 aircrafts from Northrop Grumman. Two of the nine aircrafts have already been bought for the BAMS-D program of the US Navy as part of the initial order. The US Air Force is currently using Block 30 Global Hawk aircrafts to take over the missions that were supported by Block 10 aircrafts. The new aircrafts, which have the Raytheon Enhanced Integrated Sensor Suite will upgrade to the multi-intelligence sensor package, Airborne Signals Intelligence Payload along with EISS from Northrop Grumman by next year.