The US Navy’s fleet of Global Hawk unmanned aircraft operating under the Broad Area Maritime Surveillance – Demonstrator program in the Middle East have recently surpassed 10,000 operational hours in support of maritime operations in the theatre.
The aircraft, former USAF Block 10 aircraft converted for maritime surveillance duties, average 15 missions per month in the Middle East. The aircraft were originally deployed for a six month period to help develop concepts of operations for the larger and more capable MQ-4C Triton version of the Global Hawk, but have remained in theatre for more than four years.
“BAMS-D has been extremely successful in providing a strategic picture to carrier and amphibious battle groups as they move through areas where we need more awareness,” Capt James Hoke, Triton program manager with Naval Air Systems Command said in a statement. “The BAMS-D aircraft started a six-month deployment in 2009 to demonstrate a maritime surveillance capability. Since then, they have continued to be used and have truly found their role in helping secure the safety of the fleet.”
In other Global Hawk news, a NASA Global Hawk is visiting the Australian region until March 2 as part of an upper atmosphere scientific research program.
The aircraft will carry specialist sensors designed to capture air samples and to analyse clouds, gases and solar radiation as part of the Airborne Tropical Tropopause Experiment (ATTREX) flights, and will generally operate at altitudes above 45,000 feet.
Airservices has released a NOTAM advising of the Global Hawks movements which will occur in Brisbane’s Flight Information Region (FIR) which covers northern NSW, Qld, the NT and northern WA, as well as airspace over the sea to the north and north east.
Missions will launch from a Pacific island base on Guam and Airservices does not anticipate the aircraft will be using Australian airports or operating over the mainland.