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On Monday, the Department of Defense announced that it has awarded drone maker Northrop Grumman (NYSE: NOC ) a contract for $433.5 million. An "(estimated) cost-plus-fixed-fee contract," this award hires Northrop to provide logistics support for RQ-4 Global Hawk unmanned aerial vehicles through Sept. 30, 2014.
Designated a "HALE," or high-altitude, long-endurance aircraft, the unarmed Global Hawk is a remotely operated drone designed to take the place of Lockheed Martin's (NYSE: LMT ) piloted U-2 spyplane. It is capable of flying as high as 65,000 feet above sea level at speeds of up to 400 mph, has a range of 12,000 nautical miles, and can stay aloft as long as 35 hours.