The U.S. Air Force has deployed a squadron of RQ-4 Global Hawks, from Andersen Air Force Base, Guam to Yokota Air Base, Japan.
According to a statement released by the 374th Airlift Wing Public Affairs, the rotational deployment of the Global Hawk to Japan is necessary to ensure Airmen can continuously operate the platform during months in which inclement weather in Guam has the potential to hinder theater-wide operations through the summer to fall season.
The Global Hawk serves as a high-altitude, long-endurance, remotely piloted and unarmed, aerial reconnaissance system. The aircraft 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 these U.S. military personnel and assets further contributes to regional stability and security,” said Col. Cameron Pringle, 319th Reconnaissance Wing commander. “We are grateful to our host base and host nation partners who enable us to provide this capability for military and civilian decision-makers.”
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.
Flying continuously for 21 days, 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, and the status of the Fukushima Dai-Ichi Nuclear Plant, which had been damaged by the tsunami and led to concerns of a radiation leak that would flood the already devastated region.
Since 2011, Pacific Air Forces has deployed the Global Hawk to Misawa Air Base, Japan, in 2014, 2015, and 2018 and Yokota in 2017.