Seven Years and Getting Better

Late last month, one of the RQ-4 Global Hawk operator teams with the 12th Reconnaissance Squadron at Beale AFB, Calif., got to fly a milestone sortie that marked the seventh year of Global Hawk operations in the war on terror. On Nov. 20, that RQ-4 sortie over Southwest Asia also racked up 27,000 flying hours for the Northrop Grumman-built Global Hawk. Mark Corley, Northrop’s Beale RQ-4 site lead, said that the Beale-based Global Hawks now collect 400 percent more imagery every month than they did at the start of the war in 2001. Lt. Col. John McCurdy, acting 12th RQS commander, noted that the unit’s pilots and sensor operators are “in daily contact with forward deployed forces while remotely operating the RQ-4.” He added, “More importantly, for seven years now, the RQ-4 has collected lifesaving imagery used to discover improvised explosive devices, ambush sites, downed aircraft, and other critical pieces of actionable intelligence.” (Beale report by Capt. Pete Grossenbach)