Expanding the Envelope of Small Unmanned Aerial Capability: Lockheed Martin Unveils Next Generation Desert Hawk System


The role of small unmanned aerial systems (UAS) has expanded significantly over the past several years, and will continue to evolve. UAS have proven invaluable for monitoring activities in contested areas, enhancing situational awareness, protecting our security forces, and augmenting operations in a multitude of defense and emerging civil and commercial markets.

In response to this changing environment, Lockheed Martin has developed the Desert Hawk 4 to not only meet the needs of our warfighters, but also to address civil and commercial applications. In addition to advancing the capabilities of Desert Hawk 3, Lockheed Martin has simplified the small UAS to make them easier to use. 

“Building on the Desert Hawk 3 operational excellence, our next generation Desert Hawk system will continue to set the standard in small UAS capability,” said Jay McConville, director of business development for Unmanned Integrated Solutions at Lockheed Martin Mission Systems and Training. “Desert Hawk 4 builds on this heritage system and the many lessons learned from Desert Hawk 3 by advancing the capability to include all environment capabilities, stand and toss functionality, and extends the endurance of the Desert Hawk 3 system to 2.5 hours.”

Desert Hawk 4 maintains the Desert Hawk 3 portability and can fly for more than 2.5 hours to deliver day or night full motion video for military, civil and commercial users. The system can operate in all weather conditions and in high winds while providing quality, actionable data.

The Desert Hawk 4 platform is paired with an enhanced Kestrel™ 3.1 autopilot, which incorporates data from a suite of sensors and global positioning system to create an accurate estimate of the vehicle’s location and orientation. The Kestrel™ system also stabilizes and positions the vehicle and payload so that operators receive a clear image, provided by a gimbaled camera. Desert Hawk 4 is equipped with the Perceptor Dual Sensor Gimbal, a lightweight electro-optic and infrared camera set that is capable of high precision 360-degree panning and automated target tracking.

Desert Hawk 4 Applications

The man-portable Desert Hawk 4 supports tactical operations such as:

  • Counter IED
  • Security
  • Information collection
  • Force protection
  • Aerial surveillance
  • Route reconnaissance
  • Support to targeting
  • Movement/Maneuver
  • Threat detection
  • Aerial reconnaissance
  • Special operations

Civil & Commercial
With high quality, stable imagery, Desert Hawk 4 serves as an eye-in-the-sky to cover large areas and increase efficiency in scenarios such as:

  • Search and rescue
  • Firefighting
  • Exploration
  • Disaster relief
  • Public works
  • Infrastructure
  • Resources
  • Geological
  • Pipeline monitoring
  • Forestry
  • Agriculture
  • Fish/Game monitoring and research


The Desert Hawk 4 ground control is now greatly simplified with the mobile ground control station (mGCS). mGCS is a single, portable software system that offers a superior, common control capability for multiple UAS types. The system substantially reduces operator workload through an intuitive mission planning and execution interface, touchscreen and joystick options, and a set of operator warnings, cautions and advisories. mGCS features ease of mission execution enabling operators to focus on the small UAS video products.

As small UAS continue to proliferate as proven affordable and effective tools in defense, civil and commercial applications, the Lockheed Martin Desert Hawk will continue to bring innovation, value and industry-leading capability to the user.  Whether in support of commercial, military or civilian missions, the next generation Desert Hawk 4 ease of use, ruggedness, payload modularity, open architecture, and all weather employment assures that reliable, state-of-the-art small UAS capability is available and affordable.

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