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Northrop Launches Japan’s Global Hawk UAV for Maiden Flight

RQ-4B Global Hawk
RQ-4B Global Hawk

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.

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