Global Hawk's first take off from Yokota


The RQ-4 Global Hawk’s first take off from Yokota Air Base occurred May 5, 2017.

The Global Hawk is temporarily deployed to Yokota from Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, to support U.S. intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance priorities, operational plans and contingency operations throughout the Pacific Theater. The aircraft is scheduled to operate from Yokota between May and October 2017.

A total of five Global Hawks and approximately 105 support and operations personnel with the 69th Reconnaissance Group Detachment 1, will arrive on station and remain in support of the Global Hawk mission during the operating months.

According to Maj. Mathew Stampher, 69 RG Det. 1 director of operations, in the past two years, the Global Hawk operated at Misawa Air Base, Japan during the summer months in order to maintain reliable operations by avoiding Guam’s inclement weather during the island’s typhoon season. This year, the runway at Misawa is scheduled to be under construction so the Global Hawk has been temporarily deployed to Yokota.

The Global Hawk serves as a U.S. Air Force high-altitude, long-endurance, remotely piloted and unarmed, aerial reconnaissance system. It is designed to provide persistent, day and night, high-resolution, all-weather imagery of large geographic areas with an array of integrated sensors and cameras. The presence of U.S. military ISR personnel and assets ensures regional stability and security beneficial to Indo-Asia-Pacific nations.

“The RQ-4 has supported disaster relief and rescue operations in earthquake-damaged Haiti, wildfire tracking in California, humanitarian support and anti-piracy operations,” said Lt. Col. Jeremy Fields, 69 RG Det. 1 commander.

According to Fields, after a 9.0-magnitude earthquake resulted in a tsunami ravaging northeastern Japan in 2011, the Global Hawk was requested to support Operation Tomadachi relief efforts and was on-scene within 48 hours of the disaster. The Global Hawk flew continuously for 21 days, spending 300 hours on-station and 500 hours in the air including transit time to Japan. Using long-range and infrared cameras, the Global Hawk provided commanders with more than 3,000 images of the disaster zone, including images of survivors in need of help.

The Global Hawk also conducted reconnaissance of the status of the Fukushima Dai-Ichi Nuclear Plant, which had been damaged by the tsunami and lead to concerns of a radiation leak that would flood the already devastated region.

According to Fields, by deploying its most advanced capabilities to Japan, such as the Global Hawk, the United States further strengthens its commitment to the security of Japan and the stability of the region.