Northrop Grumman Corporation and L-3 MAS are to develop a high-altitude, long-endurance (HALE) unmanned aircraft system (UAS) for Canada, enabling continuous surveillance of its Arctic territories.
“Polar Hawk,” as the system is dubbed, will be a variant of the Northrop Grumman-produced Global Hawk, and will be designed to stay aloft for long periods of time in harsh weather conditions monitoring land, ice, littoral and open water environments throughout the Arctic.
“Northrop Grumman and L-3 MAS are combining our formidable strengths to provide a surveillance system to meet requirements defined in the Canada First Defence Strategy,” said Duke Dufresne, vice president and general manager for Northrop Grumman’s unmanned systems business. “Polar Hawk’s operational features are uniquely suited to augment Canada’s existing surveillance capabilities and extend its reach to patrol large geographical areas, keeping constant vigil over the nation’s vast Arctic region from coast-to-coast in a single mission.”
Jacques Comtois, vice president and general manager of L-3 MAS, said: “L-3 MAS’s expertise in the management and maintenance of large fleets of manned aircraft, its strong heritage in UAS development and state of the art in-service support solutions are a natural fit with Northrop Grumman’s global leadership in the design, development, production, operational support and sustainment of unmanned aircraft systems for customers worldwide.”
Flying at 60,000 feet, well above challenging weather and all commercial air traffic, Polar Hawk will range over 22,000 kilometres and stay airborne for more than 33 hours, day or night in all weather conditions.
In addition to its surveillance payloads, Polar Hawk will have the power to support and can be equipped with a wide range of instrumentation for conducting science and environmental missions, as demonstrated by NASA using earlier versions of the Global Hawk UAS as far as 85 degrees north latitude. The company said it could also be deployed to support humanitarian missions.