Vought to provide wings for U.S. Navy UAS program

The carbon fiber/epoxy composite wings will be constructed with unidirectional fabric, will measure 130 ft/39.9m long and weigh more than 4,000 lb/1,818 kg.

Vought Aircraft Industries Inc. (Dallas, Texas) said today that it will supply the wings for Northrop Grumman Corp.’s (Los Angeles, Calif.) platform aircraft for the U.S. Navy’s new Broad Area Maritime Surveillance Unmanned Aircraft System (BAMS UAS) program.

“We are honored to be a part of a vital aircraft program that supports and protects our nation,” said Dennis Orzel, vice president, Vought Integrated Aerosystems Division. There are about 70 people in Dallas and 20 in Milledgeville, Ga., who work on Vought’s Global Hawk program.

Vought has been on the Global Hawk program since May 2001, responsible for the wing fabrication, assembly and structural testing. The company built two prototype and nine production wing sets under its initial contract with Northrop Grumman for the original Block 10 version. Vought has delivered 14 wings for the Block 20 version of Global Hawk – the RQ-4N’s platform. The Block 20 version features an increased wing span of approximately 15 feet, allowing it to carry more fuel and fly longer missions than its predecessor.  

Vought uses commercially available carbon fiber and epoxy materials, including high modulus unidirectional tape, in the fabrication of the Global Hawk wing. The RQ-4 wing is 130.9 ft/39.9m long, weighs about 4,000 lb/1,818 kg and is the longest wing ever delivered from Vought’s Dallas facility.

Northrop Grumman’s RQ-4N, a maritime derivative of the RQ-4B Global Hawk unmanned air vehicle, will be the platform for the BAMS UAS suite of maritime surveillance sensors and communications systems.  When operational, the BAMS UAS will play a key role in providing commanders with a persistent, reliable picture of surface threats, covering vast areas of open ocean and littoral regions.