Global Hawk makes first Guam landing
By Gerardo R. Partido
Variety News Staff
THE high-tech Global Hawk surveillance aircraft was deployed to Guam recently as part of the 9th Reconnaissance Wing’s RQ-4 Global Hawk operations deployment from Beale Air Force Base in California.
According to 2nd Lt. Ashley Peltier of the 9th Reconnaissance Wing Public Affairs Office, the Global Hawk aircraft, personnel and support equipment was deployed to Guam on July 19 directly from Beale Air Force Base in support of “a combatant commander tasking.”
The flight marks the first Global Hawk landing at Andersen Air Force Base where the Global Hawk is scheduled to be stationed permanently starting in 2009.
According to Lt. Col. J. Scott Winstead, the 12th Reconnaissance Squadron commander, they have stabilized training operations at Beale and are now stepping out to show that the Global Hawk can safely be deployed around the world.
He said the Global Hawk would have arrived on Guam sooner but the flight had to be delayed due to Typhoon Man-Yi.
At Andersen, a team from Beale set up the Global Hawk’s launch and recovery element, initiating satellite connectivity, performing link checks and trouble-shooting all possible risks.
According to the Air Force, the flight to Guam demonstrated the tremendous range and capabilities of the Global Hawk, which had to fly 16 hours from Beale Air Force Base to Andersen.
The Global Hawk, which has a 30-hour flight capability, will be based permanently on Guam starting in 2009 when $42 million worth of facilities at Andersen would have been completed.
Since its initial deployment immediately after Sept. 11, 2001, the Global Hawk program has maintained 95 percent or better mission-effectiveness, the Air Force said.
Out of the 277 combat missions flown since January 2006, only 11 have been canceled due to maintenance, weather or mission reasons.
According to Variety sources, the arrival of the Global Hawk on Guam was deliberately kept low key because Andersen and Pacific Air Forces still don’t have their own Global Hawk squadron and the publicity for the Global Hawk’s Guam deployment was left up to Beale Air Force Base in California.