Northrop Grumman will equip U.S. Air Force RQ-4 Global Hawk UAVs with the Garmin GSX 70 weather radar, an upgrade that promises to improve the mission effectiveness of the high-altitude, long-endurance unmanned aircraft. Garmin said it expects the installations to begin next spring.
In another Global Hawk development, the U.S. Defense Security Cooperation Agency notified Congress on November 19 of the possible foreign military sale of three RQ-40 Block 30 aircraft to Japan, pending negotiations between the governments. The transaction, including associated equipment, parts and support, is valued at $1.2 billion. Japan’s Ministry of Defense selected the multi-intelligence Block 30 variant earlier this year as part of its defense budget.
The GSX 70 radar weighs just 9.5 pounds, and combines antenna, receiver and transmitter, according to Garmin. It interfaces with an Ethernet modem that is already installed on the Global Hawk. Weather forward of the aircraft will be displayed on the existing mission displays in ground control stations.
The radar provides horizontal scan angles of up to 120 degrees to detect the strength and activity of convective weather activity. A vertical scanning mode aids operators in analyzing storm tops, pressure gradients and cell build-up activity at various altitudes. It also analyzes returns for turbulence detection and ground clutter suppression.
“Utilizing the GSX 70, operators can make sound weather-related decisions using real-time weather products, greatly aiding in increased mission effectiveness for these aircraft,” said Garmin, which announced its selection on November 16.