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DARPA KQ-X (Global Hawk)

United States (2012)
Picture of DARPA KQ-X (Global Hawk) Unmanned Aerial Refueling Tanker Demonstrator Vehicle

Two Northrop Grumman Global Hawk UAVs participated in NASA research regarding UAVs and inflight refuleing.


Detailing the development and operational history of the DARPA KQ-X (Global Hawk) Unmanned Aerial Refueling Tanker Demonstrator Vehicle.  Entry last updated on 4/4/2018. Authored by Staff Writer. Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com

KQ-X is a program designation commissioned by DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) of the United States to modify a pair of existing NASA Northrop Grumman RQ-4 Global Hawk unmanned aerial vehicles for research into Autonomous Aerial Refueling practices and feasibility. A $33 million contract was awarded to Northrop Grumman for the program requirements which have involved installation of a hose-and-drogue assembly arrangement in which one Global Hawk would act as the aerial refueling tanker whilst the other Global Hawk would become the target aircraft to be refueled. The benefits of such a program are obvious, allowing for completely autonomous function of a UAV design without any required human interaction. It is estimated that the addition of in-flight refueling with Global Hawk UAVs could add as much as one week of uninterrupted flight for the product.

In August of 2012, it was announced that the pair of Global Hawks had completed a close-formation flight. The flights were undertaken back in May of 2012. Contrary to the normal arrangement of the hose-and-drogue fuel delivery system currently in use by fixed-wing aircraft (in which the receiving aircraft tailed the refueler), the KQ-X program is utilizing a receiver aircraft situated ahead and above the trailing tanker, the hose being lowered to the awaiting tanker. The tanker aircraft was identified by its long nose probe used in collecting sensitive mission data. The twin aircraft were put through all manner of close-ranged positions in the testing.

The second phase of testing has since been placed on hold as the Global Hawks were reverted back to NASA specifications for the upcoming hurricane season. Post-October, the Global Hawks will be reverted once again back to the KQ-X configuration for additional testing concerning Phase 2.

Any available statistics for the DARPA KQ-X (Global Hawk) Unmanned Aerial Refueling Tanker Demonstrator Vehicle are showcased in the areas immediately below. Categories include basic specifications covering country-of-origin, operational status, manufacture(s) and total quantitative production. Other qualities showcased are related to structural values (namely dimensions), installed power and standard day performance figures, installed or proposed armament and mission equipment (if any), global users (from A-to-Z) and series model variants (if any).






Our Data Modules allow for quick visual reference when comparing a single entry against contemporary designs. Areas covered include general ratings, speed assessments, and relative ranges based on distances between major cities.

Image of collection of graph types

Relative Maximum Speed Rating
Hi: 500mph
Lo: 250mph
    This entry's maximum listed speed (497mph).

    Graph average of 375 miles-per-hour.
City-to-City Ranges
NYC
 
  LON
LON
 
  PAR
PAR
 
  BER
BER
 
  MOS
MOS
 
  TOK
TOK
 
  SYD
SYD
 
  LAX
LAX
 
  NYC
Graph showcases the DARPA KQ-X (Global Hawk)'s operational range (on internal fuel) when compared to distances between major cities.
Aviation Era
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Useful in showcasing the era cross-over of particular aircraft/aerospace designs.
Unit Production Comparison
Comm. Market HI*: 44,000 units
Military Market HI**: 36,183 units
2
2


  * Commercial Market High belongs to Cessna 172.

  ** Military Market High belongs to Ilyushin Il-2.


Altitude Visualization
Small airplane graphic
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National Flag Graphic
Origin: United States
Year: 2012
Type: Unmanned Aerial Refueling Tanker Demonstrator Vehicle
Manufacturer(s): Northrop Grumman / NASA - USA
Production: 2
Status: In-Development
Global Operators:
United States
Historical Commitments / Honors:

Military lapel ribbon for Operation Allied Force
Military lapel ribbon for the Arab-Israeli War
Military lapel ribbon for the Battle of Britain
Military lapel ribbon for the Battle of Midway
Military lapel ribbon for the Berlin Airlift
Military lapel ribbon for the Chaco War
Military lapel ribbon for the Cold War
Military lapel ribbon for the Cuban Missile Crisis
Military lapel ribbon for the Falklands War
Military lapel ribbon for the French-Indochina War
Military lapel ribbon for the Golden Age of Flight
Military lapel ribbon for the 1991 Gulf War
Military lapel ribbon for the Indo-Pak Wars
Military lapel ribbon for the Iran-Iraq War
Military lapel ribbon for the Korean War
Military lapel ribbon for the 1982 Lebanon War
Military lapel ribbon for the Malayan Emergency
Military lapel ribbon for the attack on Pearl Harbor
Military lapel ribbon for the Six Day War
Military lapel ribbon for the Soviet-Afghan War
Military lapel ribbon for the Spanish Civil War
Military lapel ribbon for the Suez Crisis
Military lapel ribbon for the Vietnam War
Military lapel ribbon for Warsaw Pact of the Cold War-era
Military lapel ribbon for the WASP (WW2)
Military lapel ribbon for the World War 1
Military lapel ribbon for the World War 2
Military lapel ribbon for the Yom Kippur
* Ribbons not necessarily indicative of actual historical campaign ribbons. Ribbons are clickable to their respective campaigns/operations.
Measurements and Weights icon
Structural - Crew, Dimensions, and Weights:
Unless otherwise noted the presented statistics below pertain to the DARPA KQ-X (Global Hawk) model. Common measurements, and their respective conversions, are shown when possible.

Operational
CREW


Personnel
0


Dimension
LENGTH


Feet
44.42 ft


Meters
13.54 m


Dimension
WIDTH


Feet
116.17 ft


Meters
35.41 m


Dimension
HEIGHT


Feet
15.16 ft


Meters
4.62 m


Weight
EMPTY


Pounds
8,488 lb


Kilograms
3,850 kg


Weight
LOADED


Pounds
22,928 lb


Kilograms
10,400 kg

Engine icon
Installed Power - Standard Day Performance:
1 x Allison Rolls-Royce AE3007H turbofan engine developing 7,000 lb of thrust.

Performance
SPEED


Miles-per-Hour
497 mph


Kilometers-per-Hour
800 kph


Knots
432 kts


Performance
RANGE


Miles
15,534 mi


Kilometers
25,000 km


Nautical Miles
13,499 nm


Performance
CEILING


Feet
65,617 ft


Meters
20,000 m


Miles
12.43 mi

Armament - Hardpoints (0):

None. Only internal fuel stores.
Variants: Series Model Variants
• KQ-X - Project Designation; 2 x Northrop Grumman Global Hawk UAVs are being utilized by NASA in the testing.