A next generation Global Hawk Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV), designated the RQ-4B will soon be under flight test with more powerful and efficient Saft Lithium Ion (Li-ion) batteries under a competitive contract awarded to Saft America.
The multi-million dollar, multi-year contract from Northrop Grumman marks the first aviation application of Saft's line of new Li-ion battery technology solutions.
During the first phase of the contract, Saft will provide three battery prototypes, two qualification units and six flight ready batteries for flight test by February 2005. A total of 252 Li-ion units are expected to be delivered to Northrop Grumman through 2011.
Li-ion technology will bring in a 50 percent weight savings and almost a 20 percent savings in volume, said Gary McMillan, Saft program manager. "On board Global Hawk, the new Li-ion technology also combines electronic cell and battery management, communications, state of charge information and self- protection."
Currently, the Global Hawk UAV RQ-4A flies with three Saft Ultra Low Maintenance Ni-Cd batteries that provide emergency power to fly the vehicle in the event of engine failure and also power on-board navigation and computer systems. The batteries are located forward of the wing in a side-bay area affording ease of access.
"It is significant that during the last several months, Li-ion technology has achieved significant milestones in flight," said Dr. Press, president, Saft America.
"Earlier this year, Saft Li-ion technology powered both Mars Rovers 'Spirit' and 'Opportunity' which marked the first application of the technology during a high-profile NASA mission. And now, we see the first true aviation application of the technology."
"There is no doubt this exciting, more powerful and efficient technology is creating opportunity across the entire aerospace market."
Saft began providing Ni-Cd batteries in support of the Global Hawk program in the mid-90's.
Since that time, the UAV has played a major role in providing Air Force and joint battlefield commanders near-real-time, high-resolution, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance imagery.
Since first flight, the Global Hawk has logged more than 4,000 flight hours of which over 2,000 are combat hours during Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom.
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Northrop Grumman Conducts First Flight of First Navy Global Hawk
Palmdale CA (SPX) Oct 07, 2004
Northrop Grumman conducted the first flight of the first RQ-4A Global Hawk unmanned aerial vehicle slated for the Navy's Global Hawk Maritime Demonstration (GHMD).
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