Northrop Grumman announced the first flight of a Global Hawk unmanned aerial vehicle built for the Japanese. In total, the Land of the Rising Sun should receive three such UAVs.
For the first time, Northrop Grumman has taken the "Japanese" unmanned aerial vehicle RQ-4B Global Hawk into the sky. A prototype UAV, built in the interests of Tokyo, made its first flight on April 15 at the Northrop Grumman facility in Palmdale, California, where the RQ-4B, as well as the marine MQ-4C Triton, are produced.
“The unarmed RQ-4B Global Hawk will provide intelligence and surveillance data to Japan, supporting the Japan Self-Defense Forces' missions to protect borders, monitor threats and provide humanitarian assistance when needed,” said Jane Bishop, vice president and general manager of autonomous systems at Northrop. Grumman. In total, Japan intends to receive three copies of the RQ-4 Block 30 (I) UAV.
The RQ-4 Global Hawk is an American strategic reconnaissance unmanned aerial vehicle developed by Northrop Grumman. The RQ-4 can fly at altitudes up to 18,000 meters for over 32 hours. It has a range of over 12,300 nautical miles (22,800 kilometers). The UAV is equipped with synthetic aperture radar, which can be used at night and in bad weather for long-range imaging. The device also has high resolution electro-optical and infrared cameras.
The Global Hawk is distinguished by an exceptionally high price. In 2012, the unit cost was estimated at about $ 140 million (excluding R&D costs). In addition, the machine is expensive to maintain. Because of this, in 2012, the US Air Force announced the termination of the purchase of RQ-4 in the Block 30 version. Nevertheless, the program was not frozen: the Pentagon found funds for the further maintenance of the Global Hawk and even the purchase of new devices of this type.
Russia is still lagging behind the United States in the development of UAVs, but in recent years it has narrowed the gap. We will remind, this year for the first time showed footage of the combat use in Syria of the new reconnaissance and strike UAV "Orion". In addition, they are actively implementing the program for the creation of the Okhotnik heavy attack UAV. According to information provided by a knowledgeable source in February, three more such devices are now being built in the country. Troops can receive the "Hunter" in 2024.