New Global Hawk Arrives

Beale AFB, Calif., home to the Air Force’s RQ-4 Global Hawk unmanned aerial vehicle fleet, yesterday received its first Global Hawk Block 20 air vehicle. “This is an exciting step for Beale, and the RQ-4 program,” said Brig. Gen. Bob Otto, 9th Reconnaissance Wing commander. The Block 20 aircraft joins the seven Block 10 air vehicles assigned to Beale, several of which have been supporting combat operations in Afghanistan and Iraq from a base in Southwest Asia. But pilots fly them from Beale, sending control commands to the aircraft over satellite communication links. The Block 20 air vehicle is larger than the Block 10, with a wingspan 15 feet longer, and carries a larger generator for more electrical power to run onboard sensors. Together these attributes allow it to carry up to 3,000 pounds of payload vice the 2,000 pounds that the Block 10 aircraft accommodates. Northrop-Grumman builds the Global Hawk, while Raytheon provides the sensor suite that provides near-real-time, high-resolution electro-optical, infrared, and synthetic-aperture-radar imagery to ground commanders. The sensor suite on the Block 20 is an enhanced version of the one on the Block 10 aircraft. USAF is buying six Block 20 air vehicles. Plans are for all six of them to be based at Beale, SSgt Zachary Wilson, told the Daily Report yesterday. (Includes Beale report by SrA. Christine Collier)