"The aircraft has proven itself to be one of the most reliable in the Air Force."
-- Lt. Gen. Sam AngelellaLt. Gen. Sam Angelella, commander of U.S. Forces Japan, said Friday the drones will remain here until October, when the typhoon season on the drones' home base on the Pacific island of Guam is over. Similar rotations from Guam to Misawa are expected in the future, though Angelella said no firm plans have been made. He refused to comment on the specific missions the drones will carry out but noted that the Global Hawk's "capabilities are well known."
The drone is considered particularly valuable because it can conduct long-range missions without the limitations of pilot fatigue, is able to fly at a maximum 60,000 feet (18.3 kilometers) and can “loiter” around any particular site of interest for 24 hours or more.
From Japan, it can easily monitor areas on the Asian mainland — including North Korea’s nuclear sites — or targets at sea — such as areas where China and other countries have had confrontations over territory.
The military keeps much of the Global Hawk’s work secret, but Angelella spoke of its use in humanitarian missions including Japan’s 2011 tsunami and the devastating typhoon that hit the Philippines last year. More recently, he said, the drone was used in surveillance work following mass abduction of more than 300 girls in Nigeria by Islamic extremists.
The deployment of the drones will also help Japan familiarize itself with the aircraft. Tokyo plans to buy three Global Hawks…(read more)
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