ASIP Block 30M RQ-4B Global Hawk glamour shoot at Edwards Hangar

Decision On Sensor Key To Universal Payload Adapter Solution

For SYERS, OBC sensor transfer

Air Combat Command appears ready to support Northrop Grumman’s universal payload adapter solution for transferring national security sensors from the U-2 to the RQ-4B Global Hawk once it is determined which sensors would be most appropriate to carry on the high-altitude unmanned surveillance aircraft.

Northrop believes its internally-developed adapter, which involves airframe and software changes, would allow the Global Hawk to carry the Optical Bar Camera (OBC) and Senior Year Electro-optical Reconnaissance System (SYERS) sensors currently supported by the U-2 spy plane — an aircraft the Pentagon has targeted for retirement to cut costs.

The company last year offered to reconfigure six Global Hawks for $48 million, but the Air Force declined the offer citing a lack of “sufficient technical information.” More recently the company offered to demonstrate the universal payload adapter design using its own funds, however, that would require the Air Force to provide Northrop with one Global Hawk and SYERS sensor.

During an Oct. 10 interview with Inside the Air Force, the head of ACC’s intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance weapon systems division confirmed the command’s continued interest in the universal payload adapter (UPA) and said the service is working closely with Northrop on a final solution.

“We’re trying to identify the sensors that would be most appropriate to put on the UPA right now,” Col. James Merchant said. “We’re right in the middle of it.”

Inside the Air Force – 10/10/2014, Vol. 25, No. 41