Northrop Grumman's Block 40 Global Hawk has new eyes. The unmanned aircraft completed its first full system flight carrying the production version of the next-gen Multi-Platform Radar Technology Insertion Program (MP-RTIP) sensor at Edwards Air Force Base, California, on July 21.

The MP-RTIP system (also known as AN/ZPY-2 ... like that helps) has been in development since 2000 and Northrop Grumman began using the high-altitude Proteus manned aircraft as a testbed for the production version in September last year.

Using active electronically scanned array (AESA) technology, MP-RTIP delivers long-range radar at very high-resolution and will improve tracking of ground vehicles - possibly even people - as well as air-to-air surveillance. The system is also designed to be modular and scalable so it can be applied to multiple airborne platforms.

The latest generation Global Hawk UAV (Block 40) first flew in late 2009 and is able to maintain altitudes of 60,000 feet for more than 32 hours at speeds approaching 340 knots.

"The MP-RTIP equipped Global Hawk is the natural evolution of the program's advanced technology in providing invaluable intelligence, reconnaissance and surveillance capabilities for both military and domestic applications," said George Guerra, vice president, High Altitude Long Endurance Systems at Northrop Grumman.

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