The U.S. military has moved a handful of Air Force RQ-4 Global Hawk surveillance planes from Andersen Air Force Base in Guam to Japan in order to avoid dangerous weather conditions and improve mission effectiveness in the region, Air Force officials said.
“An initiative is underway to forward deploy our Block 30 fleet to Japan this summer which will allow the these aircraft to avoid most of the thunderstorm activity that is present in the vicinity of Andersen AFB during the summer months. This type of adverse weather decimated mission effectiveness last year,” Maj. Guy Perrow, Deputy director, Air Combat Command Multi-Role Reconnaissance Operations Division, said in a written statement.
The Global Hawks, which will conduct routine intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions in the region while deployed from Japan, will return to Andersen AFB later this summer, Perrow said.
The Block 30 Global Hawk can fly missions up to 28 hours equipped with a synthetic aperture radar, or SAR, an electro-optical camera and SIGINT sensors. However, only one of the sensors can be used at one time, Perrow added.
The Air Force is also currently developing a next-generation Block 40 Global Hawk which is slated to be ready sometime this year. The Block 40 aircraft will feature an active electronically scanned array radar which will provide SAR and Ground Moving Target Indicator data, Air Force officials said.
In total, 42 Global Hawks are in service worldwide, with 32 currently making up the Air Force’s inventory.