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Vought Aircraft Industries has successfully tested to 100 percent limit load its first enhanced carbon fibre wing for the U.S. Air Force’s new next generation RQ-4B Global Hawk unmanned air vehicle (UAV) produced by Northrop Grumman.
This testing, which is similar to ones conducted previously on the RQ-4A configuration, is designed to simulate forces experienced due to specific “”gust load”” winds during a mission.
The enhanced carbon fibre wing is one of a number of system improvements prime contractor Northrop Grumman is making to Global Hawk to accommodate an increased payload carrying capability while maintaining current platform performance specifications.
Vought’s work scope includes design development, fabrication, assembly and structural testing of the new wing. The company is currently scheduled to build seven production wings for the new RQ-4B model, with options for future production lots of the new wing configuration. Vought has built two RQ-4B prototype wings and is producing another article for testing ultimate loads. For the RQ-4A model, Vought built two prototype and nine production wings under its Low Rate Initial Production (LRIP) contract with Northrop Grumman.
“”This is an important step in developing the new Global Hawk wing,”” said Erich Smith, Vought’s senior vice president, program management and business development. “”We look forward to delivering the first enhanced wing to Northrop Grumman in July on schedule.””
Global Hawk has completed more than 200 missions and logged over 4,000 flight hours in the Global War on Terrorism. It began flying missions over Afghanistan in 2001, playing a key role in supporting Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom. Global Hawk enhances the U.S. military’s ability to prevail in all types of operations, from sensitive peacekeeping missions to combat operations.
The new RQ-4B wing is 130.9 feet long and weighs about 4,000 pounds. It will be the longest wing ever delivered from Vought’s Dallas facility. The company also builds wings for the Gulfstream 550/500 and 350/450 business jets; wing panels for the Citation X business jet; large wing components for the Airbus A319/320 and A330/340 airplanes; the center wing section for the Boeing 767; inboard wing flaps for the Boeing 777; lower wing skins for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter; wing panels for Northrop Grumman’s EA-6B and E-2C military aircraft; wing components for Boeing’s C-17 Globemaster III transport; and wing skins for the Embraer 170/190 regional jets.
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