21 June 2011

USAF Global Hawk Drones Return Themselves to California's Edwards AFB from Overseas Theaters... at 60,000 ft!

Northrop Grumman RQ-4 Global Hawk

Above we have a Global Hawk UAV that has just returned from Iraq in one nonstop flight, rather than packed and transported via C-5/C-17 cargo, as would normally be the case...

Do note the mission paintings on the fuselage- looks like 250+, they're really working these things, and drones are here to stay. This super-snooper can stay up for 36 hrs while operating above 60,000 feet, fulfilling the prior high-altitude surveillance role of the legendary, manned U-2. The Global Hawk is controlled via satellite by a flight-control center team in California's Mohave desert, who enjoy the luxury of over 15,000 miles of purple-sky range to work with.

The Global Hawk's piercing eyes consist of high resolution SAR (Synthetic Aperture Radar), which is capable of penetrating clouds and even sandstorms- and Electro-Optical/Infrared (EO/IR), which provides long range imagery with extended loiter times. Operating 24 hrs, the Global Hawk can have a look at over 40,000 sq miles/day.... then bring itself right on back home. 

And the absolute drone distance record? That was set ten years ago when a Global Hawk flew non-stop from Edwards in California to RAAF Base Edinburgh in Australia, also therefore the first pilotless aircraft to cross the Pacific Ocean. The flight took 22 hours, and set a world distance record for a UAV: 8,214.44 mi...




5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Neat piece of kit

Trestin said...

The drones scare me. I don't like the idea of taking the pilot out of the equation, and that is where we are heading.

Maggie@MaggiesNotebook said...

Incredible! It's an odd looking bird - nothing like the usual drone.

Reaganite Republican said...

Drones are here to stay... but I know what you'r saying I think, the moral calculation of going to war is a lot different when our boys' lives aren't on the line

And it IS odd looking... primarily due to the satellite dish inside the nose

Woodsterman (Odie) said...

I'd like a couple of those please, and lets have one on the Mexican border too.

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