The Air Force intends to award Northrop Grumman [NOC] a sole-source contract for the ongoing development and production of all RQ-4 Global Hawk variants, as well as modernization, retrofit and sustainment activities.

A presolicitation notice released Oct. 9 on FedBizOpps states that the performance period is scheduled to last through fiscal year 2030, with an anticipated contract ceiling of $4.8 billion.

The service released a “sources sought synopsis” related to Global Hawk modernization work in April 2018, and results “did not indicate any source other than Northrop … could perform the work under this contract at the prime level,” the presolicitation said. The Air Force awarded Northrop Grumman an engineering and manufacturing development (EMD) contract for Global Hawk in 2001.

The high-altitude, long-endurance remotely piloted aircraft (RPA) provides all-weather intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities for the service. The Air Force requested $47 million in the fiscal year 2020 president’s budget for the RQ-4 Ground Segment Modernization Program (GSMP), which includes new sensors and equipment, along with fairings and sensor windows to support a planned 20-year operational cycle for the aircraft. It also requested $1.7 million for various modifications to the RQ-4.

Both requests are supported in the House- and Senate-versions of the fiscal year 2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), as well as in the House-passed defense appropriations bill and the committee-passed Senate version of the defense spending,