The unmanned aircraft system (UAS) Part two: The electronics inside
In Part one of this article, we introduced the UAS, in particular, the Northrop Grumman Global Hawk. In this part two we will take a look inside the aircraft to see what makes it one of the world’s most advanced UAS we have ever seen.
YouTube Video of EQ-4 Global Hawk by Tech Sgt. Matthew Pardini U.S. Air Force’s Central Public Affairs, 380th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron preparing a launch
The AN/ZPY-2 Multi-Platform Radar Technology Insertion Program (MP-RTIP)
This radar system uses an active electronically scanned array (AESA) technology as well as COTS hardware that creates a long-range, extremely high-resolution synthetic aperture radar (SAR), ground moving target indicator (GMTI) and air target tracking capabilities.
Figure 1: E1 is the MP-RTIP antenna; E2 is the MP-RTIP rotational motor drive; E3 is the MP-RTIP forward attachment frame; E4 is the MP-RTIP rear attachment frame. (Image courtesy of Flight Global)
The MP-RTIP sensor consists of three architectural elements. These elements are the antenna, the radio frequency electronics, and the signal processor. The architectural elements allow for common interface definitions across the various host platforms.
Figure 2: Starboard side forward avionics bay detail with MP-RTIP processor power supply (E27), MP-RTIP processor assembly (E29) and three Li-Ion batteries (E30) (Image courtesy of Flight Global)
The MP-RTIP software can function independently of the physical location of the hardware that it is controlling. The software architecture is also host platform independent to the maximum extent possible.
Figure 3: Northrop Grumman Global Hawk showing the MP-RTIP exposed on the lower side of the fuselage (Image courtesy Dept. of Defense Selected Acquisition Report)