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Last Block 10 Global Hawk arrives for check flights

EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. (AFPN) -- An RQ-4 Global Hawk unmanned aerial vehicle, the last Block 10 production aircraft, arrived here for a thorough checkup before delivery to an operational squadron.

The aircraft will undergo a series of acceptance and operational check flights by the 452nd Flight Test Squadron before flying to Beale Air Force Base, Calif., to take its place as a fully operational reconnaissance aircraft.

The 452nd FLTS delivered the first Block 10 production Global Hawk to Beale in 2004, and this aircraft represents the last of the smaller variants to be delivered, said Lt. Col. Douglas Jaquish, 452nd FLTS commander.

"Northrop Grumman has started producing a larger Global Hawk variant," he said. "The Block 20, 30 and 40 aircraft will have more capability. They've increased the payload by 50 percent."

Colonel Jaquish said his team evaluates not only the aircraft, but the sensors that go on board and give the Global Hawk its intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capability.

"This last Block 10 aircraft represents the fruits of our labors in Global Hawk flight test," Colonel Jaquish said. "I couldn't be more proud of the team. Beale's 12th Reconnaissance Squadron just flew Global Hawk past the 10,000-hour mark -- 60 percent of which were combat hours. That's a major milestone and a testament to the Global Hawk program."

With eight years of flying history, Global Hawk has amassed nearly half its hours in the last three years, and more than 3,000 in just the last year.

"We're really ramping up," Colonel Jaquish said. "Global Hawk is starting to come into its own."