Getting the Northern Edge

RQ-4 Global Hawk efficiency has improved by about 50 percent since the Air Force began to use a flight route over Canada in April for ferrying these remotely piloted surveillance aircraft from Beale AFB, Calif., to forward operating locations in Southwest Asia, according to Beale airmen. “We’re constantly swapping aircraft out for maintenance to provide the forward operators with fresh aircraft,” said Capt. Gary Toroni, 12th Operations Support Squadron flight commander. He said the new route is shorter—factoring the Earth’s curvature—so it means getting RQ-4s to the war theater sooner and back to Beale more quickly for maintenance. The maintenance burden is also somewhat reduced because the new route eliminates the need for landing the Global Hawks at NAS Patuxent River, Md., en route to Southwest Asia. (Beale report by Randy Roughton)