Tuesday, July 7, 2020

U.S. Air Force redeploys its giant spy drone from Japan

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The U.S. Air Forces redeployed a squadron of 319th Reconnaissance Wing Global Hawk RQ-4s from Yokota Air Base, Japan, to Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, Oct. 20, 2019, according to 374th Airlift Wing Public Affairs.

The three-month deployment kept operations running smoothly during the summer typhoon-season, when inclement weather has a higher potential to hinder theater-wide operations.

“We were pleased to welcome the 319th Reconnaissance Wing Det. 1 back to Yokota Air Base. They not only integrated seamlessly with our team but were also able to strengthen relationships with our local communities. The RQ-4 mission plays a critical role in the Indo-Pacific Region, and its presence here helps us ensure the safety and security of Japan,” said Col. Otis Jones, 374th Airlift Wing commander.

Since 2011, Pacific Air Forces has deployed the Global Hawk to Misawa Air Base, Japan, in 2014, 2015, and 2018 and Yokota in 2017 and 2019.

“Having alternate locations to execute our mission during seasons of inclement weather ensured our ability to continue executing U.S. Indo-Pacific Command and the Alliance reconnaissance requirements in support of the defense of Japan and to maintain international peace and security in the region,” said Lt Col Ben Craycraft, 319th Operations Group Det. 1 commander. “Our squadron of Global Hawks safely and flawlessly executed each mission daily, virtually unnoticed, without incident. This is all thanks to the extensive and outstanding support the Samurai Warrior Team at the 374th Airlift Wing provided our squadron.”

The RQ-4 is a giant, high-altitude, long-endurance, remotely piloted and unarmed,  designed to provide persistent, day and night, high-resolution, all-weather imagery of large geographic areas with an array of integrated sensors and cameras.

In addition to supporting intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) requirements, the Global Hawk can be used for humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations. One of its most notable missions was in support of the humanitarian assistance and disaster relief efforts during Operation Tomodachi after the 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

“In the past, the RQ-4s were instrumental in assisting with humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations as well as providing unmatched capabilities with High Altitude, Long Endurance (HALE) Reconnaissance,” explained Craycraft. “As in 2017, Yokota Air Base ultimately provided the most ideal location for our operations due to the Kanto Plain’s favorable weather and our ability to conduct operations without causing impact to flights or the local communities surrounding Yokota Air base.”

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