Tow bar adapter makes Global Hawk truly ‘global’

A simple solution to a difficult problem resulted in dramatically enhancing the ability of the RQ-4B Global Hawk to deploy anywhere in the world.

The Global Hawk is a remotely piloted aircraft that requires a specialized tow bar to be moved on the ground, it is pre-programmed with a list of airfields possessing necessary ground support equipment. In the event of an emergency, the RQ-4B aircraft would automatically divert to one of those approved locations if it needed to get on the ground quickly.

Aeronautical Systems Center’s Global Hawk Division saw this as a limiting factor that needed to be rectified if the aircraft was to be truly “global.”

“We went through several designs but could not settle on something that met our requirements in terms of time and money,” said Dave Wimer, a structural engineer in the division. “Then, our leadership decided to see if we could develop a design ourselves.”

The resulting kit, designed by Mr. Wimer, consists of a tow bar adapter and main landing gear down locks. The entire kit weighs a mere 14 pounds and costs less than $2,000 each to manufacture. It is also small enough to fit neatly inside the Global Hawk’s wing which means no expensive modification to the aircraft itself was required.

The main landing gear down locks prevent the landing gear from collapsing even if there is a failure in the hydraulic system. (U.S. Air Force photo)


Once attached to the front wheel, the tow bar adapter (red) allows the Global Hawk to be towed by any of the universally available tow bars found at airports worldwide. (U.S. Air Force photo)

The simple yet ingenious design allows the Global Hawk to be towed by any of the universally available tow bars found at airports worldwide.

“This is the kind of innovative solution we are going to need more of in this era of tight budgets,” said Col. Karl Rozelsky, Global Hawk Division chief. “This is an excellent example of ‘doing more without more.'”

Source:  Air Force Material Command


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