New sensor payload capability available for Global Hawk

According to UPI

SAN DIEGO, Feb. 26 (UPI) — A Northrop Grumman solution to enable the use of legacy and future sensor systems on its RQ-4 Global Hawk drone has been successfully demonstrated.

The test involved the use of a legacy SYERS-2 intelligence gathering sensor attached to the high-altitude, long-endurance drone through the use of the company’s innovative Universal Payload Adapter, a bracket mounted onto a Global Hawk airframe to support a wide variety of payloads.

With the success of the SYERS-2 flight, Northrop Grumman now plans to fly an Optical Bar Camera sensor and an MS-177 multi-spectral sensor later on the RQ-4 later this year.

“This SYERS-2 flight is only the beginning,” said Mick Jaggers, Northrop’s vice president and program manager for Global Hawk unmanned aircraft system programs. “We firmly believe that with the addition of the UPA, Global Hawk is capable of flying any mission the U.S. Air Force requires.

“Northrop Grumman is funding this study in order to prove that the system can affordably carry the same sensors as any other intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft. We look forward to continuing to work with our Air Force partners on this groundbreaking solution.”

Global Hawks flown by the U.S Air Force are capable of carrying an Enhanced Integrated Sensor Suite, an Airborne Signals Intelligence Payload, and Multi-Platform Radar Technology Insertion Program.

The flight tests are taking place as a result of a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement with the USAF that allows the company to test sensors that previously couldn’t be used on the Global Hawk.


Senior Year Electro-optical Reconnaissance System-2 (SYERS-2)

@Northrop Grumman

The Senior Year Electro-optical Reconnaissance System-2 (SYERS-2) demonstration on 18 February comes after the company reached a co-operative research agreement with the USAF in 2015, and demonstrations with the U-2’s Optical Bar Camera and UTC Aerospace Systems’ latest multispectral sensor – that will replace SYERS-2, the MS-177 – will follow. Source

MS-177: The New Standard in Long-Range Imaging MS-177 Family of Systems (FoS) sensor will provide better image resolution over a longer range and greater coverage area per hour than any other Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) sensor in the U.S. military inventory. In addition to the Northrop Grumman Global Hawk, MS-177 will be able to operate from multiple other ISR platforms, satisfying military requirements for both land and maritime missions.
The MS-177 is the next evolution of UTC Aerospace Systems’ Senior Year Electro-optical Reconnaissance System (SYERS) sensor, currently flown on U-2S aircraft. The SYERS-2 sensor pivots from side to side, while the MS-177 also squints forward and backward, enabling new imaging capabilities. The MS-177 sensor will ultimately be converted into the MS-177A and will offer further expanded spectral performance, enhancing data identification capabilities and assisting in the collation of improved and actionable intelligence.


A Multispectral imaging Sensor supporting strategic intelligence collection on the U-2 from the 1960s to the present, SYERS-2A collects seven spectral bands simultaneously providing very high-resolution operational standoff imagery. The system’s shortwave IR and mid-wave IR capability enables low-light operation, penetrates haze and smoke, defeats CC&D, and supports CIED/COIN operations. Source

Optical Bar Camera

The proof-of-concept last week and the trials to come might lead the service to upgrade its entire multi-intelligence RQ-4 fleet to Northrop’s new open software and hardware standard. The modification adds 17 universal payload lugs and new sensor shrouds to the 1,360kg (3,000lb) payload bay as well as and software architecture changes.

“We’re right now negotiating with the US Air Force, that will do their aircraft, and very readily it will be transportable to the NATO airplanes and [MQ-4C] Triton,” says Jaggers. “What’s hard, because of the operational demand, is getting the airplanes back to be able to do the retrofit. It’s about a one or two-month depot-level requirement to retrofit the airplanes.”

Northrop says the MS-177 and the photographic optical bar camera – used for treaty verification – will be demonstrated this year. Source

Northrop also has mockups of the MS-177 and Optical Bar Camera sensors at its boothNorthrop Grumman’s T-3 test bed aircraft demonstrates the electro-optical/infrared (EO/IR) capability of the MS-177 camera using a Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System (Joint STARS). Melbourne is home to Joint STARS and the T-3 aircraft. The E-8C Joint STARS is the only all-weather, long-range, real-time, wide area surveillance and battle management and command and control weapon system in the world.

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