USAF RQ-4 Global Hawk drone by Bobbi Zapka (USAF, 2007)

USAF to Test New Sensor on Global Hawk Drone

The US Air Force is planning to test new sensors on the RQ-4 Global Hawk surveillence drone next month. The new sensors have been demonstrated in flight tests and will now go forward to testing with the US Air Force.

Developed by United Technologies Corporation (UTC) Aerospace Systems, the MS-177 is a multi-spectral 7-band sensor.

UTC has already spent two years working on the MS-177. In February this year, RQ-4 Global Hawk manufacturers Northrup Grumman and UTC demonstrated the 7-band MS-177 sensor during high-altitude, long-endurance flight tests.

The US Air Force plans to begin formal development testing of MS-177 equipped Global Hawks in April at California’s Edwards Air Force Base to assess whether the system meets Air Force requirements.

Kevin Raftery, UTC Aerospace Systems’s Vice President and General Manager of UTC Aerospace Systems, explained that the MS-177 is a long-development, expensive device that requires extra care to ensure future-proofing against obsolescence.

Some of the MS-177’s capabilities were first demonstrated on UTC’s DB-110 dual-band airborne reconnaissance sensor, which was derived from the Senior Year Electro-Optical Reconnaissance System (SYERS) used on the U-2 aircraft.

UTC Aerospace is already in the process of constructing a 10-band version of its MS-177 sensor, the MS-177A.

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