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Northrop's RQ-4 Reaches 25K Combat Hours: The RQ-4 Global Hawk high-flying reconnaissance unmanned aerial vehicle has surpassed 25,000 combat flying hours, the UAV-maker Northrop Grumman announced Aug. 5. The milestone sortie came on July 8-9 during a flight from a deployed location. "This is a significant program achievement, accounting for more than 76 percent of the aircraft's 32,500 cumulative flight hours for the US Air Force and US Navy," said George Guerra, Northrop's VP of high-altitude, long-endurance (HALE) systems. The RQ-4 surpassed 30,000 total hours last March. Guerra commended the company's production team, saying it had the 26th production air vehicle in final assembly, putting Northrop "on the road to completing initial operational test and evaluation to support a full-rate production decision next year." Since an initial flight in 1998, Global Hawk's have flown 1,229 missions for overseas contingency operations and disaster relief efforts. In the Northrop release, Steve Amburgey, Global Hawk program director with the Aeronautical Systems Center at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio, said the UAV "is so robust and reliable that it's in high demand by our warfighters who fly them approximately six to seven days a week, averaging more than 600 hours per month in theater."