Lawmakers, local officials, Grand Forks business leaders and executives from Northrop Grumman met on Wednesday, Oct. 13, to officially recognize the transfer of four retired Global Hawk drones. The drones will be retrofitted with new equipment, then flown out to either the east or west coast where they will be used to assist in hypersonic missile testing. The drones were transferred to Northrop’s facility from Grand Forks Air Force Base. They arrived at the base at the end of July.
“The future security of our country depends in big, big way, on the incredible work that you and the other technology aerospace companies we have (are doing),” said Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., when addressing the roughly 60 people gathered to mark the occasion.
Hoeven recapped the mission earlier in the day, when he gave the keynote address kicking off the UAS Summit & Expo at the Alerus Center. The new program will transform those Global Hawks into Range Hawks, and they will be outfitted with new sensors that allow them to track hypersonic missiles. Previously those drones tracked ground-based targets, or acted as flying communication nodes. The new sensors, Hoeven said, will allow the drones to “look