A demonstrator for the U.S. Navy Broad Area Maritime Surveillance (Bams) UAV crashed near NAS Patuxent River on June 11. The UAV crashed into swampland about 20 miles east of the base and was destroyed, after what the Navy described as a routine flight. The accident came just four days before Northrop Grumman unveiled the first MQ-4C, the full-specification Bams UAV, at Palmdale, Calif.
The Navy has acquired five surplus Block 10 Global Hawks from the U.S. Air Force as Bams-D versions. Three have been deployed to the Gulf, where they operate alongside U.S. Air Force Global Hawks from Al Dhafra airbase in the UAE. They retain the original Raytheon integrated sensor suite producing EO, IR and SAR imagery, including additional maritime modes. They also carry the maritime automatic identification system and a Sigint system. During surveillance missions over the Gulf and the Indian Ocean, they are controlled from Patuxent River.
The definitive MQ-4C has a new sensor suite offering 360-degree coverage, thanks to Northrop Grumman’s new 2-D AESA radar with a rotating antenna, and a Raytheon MTS-B EO/IR full-motion video turret.