Soaring Ever Higher

The US military’s fleet of RQ-4 Global Hawk unmanned reconnaissance aircraft (i.e., Air Force and Navy assets) surpassed 30,000 total flight hours during the March 31 combat 22-hour sortie of an Air Force RQ-4 over Southwest Asia. Approximately 2.5 hours into the flight, the milestone was eclipsed. In all, members of five squadrons, including ones back stateside, played a role in piloting the high-flying, image-gathering UAV during the flight. This included the 99th Expeditionary Reconnaissance Squadron, whose operators controlled the aircraft during its launch and landing, and the 12th Reconnaissance Squadron at Beale AFB, Calif., whose pilots are credited with being at the controls at the 30,000th flight hour. Besides the Air Force’s Global Hawks, the Navy is using two of its own assets in a maritime demonstration, and intends to buy more. According to Air Combat Command, the total number of RQ-4 flight hours, as of March 31, was 30,044, including 1,670 hours flown by the Navy. (Includes Beale report by A1C Chuck Broadway)