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An RQ-4 Global Hawk sits on the runway before beginning a nighttime mission. The aircraft is unmanned, and is used to capture imagery from high altitudes. (Courtesy photo/John Schwab)
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 RQ-4 Global Hawk
Air Force utilizes Global Hawk to support Japan relief efforts

Posted 3/16/2011   Updated 3/16/2011 Email story   Print story


by Public Affairs

3/16/2011 - JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii -- In response to the devastation caused by the March 11 earthquake off the eastern coast of Japan and the resulting tsunami, Pacific Air Forces is utilizing an RQ-4 Global Hawk from Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, to assist the government of Japan in disaster relief and recovery efforts.

The Global Hawk, a high-altitude, long-endurance unmanned aircraft system, referred to as a remotely piloted aircraft, is being used to help assess damage to towns, industrial infrastructure, and other facilities affected during the earthquake and flood waters.

"The Global Hawk is an ideal ISR asset to aid in disaster relief," said Gen. Gary North, PACAF commander. "It directly complements ongoing efforts in the region and represents how advanced technology can provide crucial and timely support to senior leadership officials and search, recovery and disaster relief efforts."

The Global Hawk was also used for disaster relief efforts following the 7.0 magnitude earthquake that struck Haiti in January 2010. This will be the aircraft's first use in a humanitarian operation in the Pacific theater since it was permanently assigned at Andersen AFB in September 2010.

With approximately 30 hours of flight endurance, the Global Hawk provides a broad view of the situation on the ground. Its ability to survey large geographic areas also offers decision-makers and first responders near real-time information to assess damage and prioritize for local need. Its long airborne dwell capacity also assures continuous and long-lasting-support for whatever requirements the Government of Japan may require.

"The Global Hawk and the expertise offered by our Airmen further enhances the country's already robust capabilities as our Air force members work side by side with Japan's Self Defense force professionals," said General North.

Based at Guam, the aircraft allows the U.S. to effectively support contingencies throughout the region, demonstrating our commitment to partners throughout the Pacific, and is one part of a wide range of PACAF personnel and aircraft that are supporting the Japanese operations.

In conjunction with the Global Hawk, another reconnaissance aircraft, a U-2, also deployed from the region, is also being used to provide imagery of damage for the Japanese recovery operations.

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