Northrop Grumman has conducted the inaugural flight of an unmanned aerial vehicle built to help the Japanese military collect intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance data in real time.
Japan’s RQ-4B Global Hawk took off Thursday from a company facility in Palmdale, California, for its maiden voyage, Northrop said Friday.
Jane Bishop, vice president and general manager of autonomous systems of Northrop, said RQ-4B Global Hawk could support the Japan Air Self-Defense Force in border protection, threat monitoring and humanitarian missions.
The Japanese air force plans to integrate the unmanned aircraft with ground command-and-control systems and other intelligence assets as part of regional security efforts.
Japan is joining the list of U.S. allies that have adopted the high-altitude long-endurance UAV platform. Australia, NATO and South Korea will operate different Global Hawk variants.
The State Department approved a $1.2 billion foreign military sale of three RQ-4 Block 30 I Global Hawks and associated equipment to Japan in November 2015.