A RQ-4B Global Hawk high-altitude, remotely-piloted, surveillance aircraft built for Japan made its first flight on April 15.

“The unarmed RQ-4B Global Hawk will provide Japan with on-demand intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance information supporting the Japan Air Self-Defense Force’s missions of protecting borders, monitoring threats and providing humanitarian assistance in times of need,” said Jane Bishop, vice president and general manager, autonomous systems, Northrop Grumman. “This successful first flight is a significant milestone in delivering Global Hawk to our Japanese allies.”

Global Hawk is the only high-altitude, long-endurance unmanned air vehicle (UAV) to deliver near real-time on demand data around the clock. Once fielded, Global Hawk will integrate with other Japanese intelligence assets, including ground-based command and control units. The capability will provide solutions to monitor and deter regional threats.

The RQ-4 Global Hawk has a wingspan of over 130 feet and has a maximum takeoff weight of 16 tons. The UAV has a range of over 12,000 miles and can stay in the air for more than 34 hours, allowing it to provide persistent coverage of large target areas.

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