Global Hawk UAVs For Japan’s Air Force

posted by Paul Fiddian | 20.11.2015

RQ-4 Block 30 Surveillance Aircraft Sale Planned


Japan is set to become the Global Hawk remotely-piloted vehicle’s newest operator, having requested three examples from the US.

In its sights is a trio of RQ-4 Block 30 surveillance aircraft, to be purchased via the US FMS (Foreign Military Sales) route for an estimated $1.2bn.

The US State Department has already approved this Japanese Global Hawk acquisition: now, it’s been put before US Congress by the Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA). Congress has 15 days to stop the sale proceeding: a step it seldom takes.

Global Hawk flying environmental mapping missions in Latin America, Caribbean

RQ-4 Block 30 UAVs

Besides the RQ-4 Block 30s, the package would also integrate LN-251 INS/GPS systems, test and ground support equipment, spare parts and training services. The lead contractor involved would be Northrop Grumman.

The RQ-4 Block 30 surveillance UAV made its first flight in 1998. The type equips both the United States Air Force and – as the MQ-4C Triton – the US Navy. 42 examples have so far been built.

Powered by a single Rolls-Royce F137-RR-100 turbofan, producing 7,600 pounds of thrust, it has a top speed of 391 miles per hour and a range of over 14,000 miles. Missions lasting some 32 hours at a time can be carried out at altitudes up to 60,000 feet.


Japanese Global Hawks Sale

In the DSCA’s words: ‘The proposed sale of the RQ-4 will significantly enhance Japan’s intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities and help ensure that Japan is able to continue to monitor and deter regional threats.

‘The Japan Air Self Defense Force (JASDF) will have no difficulty absorbing these systems into its armed forces’, the agency said, adding: ‘There will be no adverse impact on US defense readiness as a result of this proposed sale.’

The Japanese Global Hawks sale approval comes hot on the heels of a $151 million order, just placed by the Japan Air Self-Defense Force, for Northrop Grumman-made E-2D Advanced Hawkeye AEW&C (airborne early warning and control) platforms.

RQ-4 Global Hawk image copyright USAF – courtesy Wikimedia Commons

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