The US Air Force has awarded a $13-million contract to Northrop Grumman to develop an advanced radar technology for integration into NATO drones.
The cutting-edge radar should enable the RQ-4D Phoenix to fuse sensor data and continuously detect and track moving targets.
It should also provide clear images of selected objects, such as key enemy facilities.
Apart from developing the radar, Northrop will implement and test the technology at Sigonella Air Base in Italy.
The company will also conduct maintenance and repair activities to support NATO surveillance missions in various member states.
Work for the contract is expected to be completed by September 2023.
The RQ-4D Phoenix is a high-altitude, long-endurance unmanned aircraft system that is a key component of the NATO Alliance Ground Surveillance Force.
A modified version of the RQ-4 Block 40 Global Hawk, the Phoenix has a length of 47 feet (14 meters) and a maximum take-off weight of 32,250 pounds (14,628 kilograms).
Its Rolls Royce North America AE 3007H turbofan engine allows a flight speed of up to 575 kilometers (357 miles) per hour.
The drone provides near-real-time, persistent wide-area terrestrial and maritime surveillance in all weather conditions.
The RQ-4D also supports ground troop protection, border control, maritime safety, counter-terrorism, and humanitarian assistance.