A remotely piloted RQ-4 Global Hawk operated by the US Air Force (USAF) landed at Avalon Airport on Saturday evening ahead of the Australian International Airshow 2015, marking the first time the high-altitude, long-endurance aircraft has flown into a civilian airport to be viewed by the general public.
“This is significant on a number of fronts,” stated Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Chief of Air Force Air Marshal Geoff Brown. “It is the first time a military unmanned aerial system has been in civil airspace with a civil air traffic control service in Australia, and the first time a military UAS has landed at a civil airport.”
Back in March last year, the Australian government committed to acquiring Northrop Grumman’s MQ-4C Triton unmanned aircraft, which is based on the Global Hawk, subject to the successful completion of the US Navy’s development program. Consequently, there is a great degree of interest in this opportunity to observe the RQ-4 up close.
“The close coordination required to bring the Global Hawk to Australia will pay great dividends in the future,” said Colonel Art Primas, who is playing the role of US ‘air boss’ at Avalon. “Creating standardised procedures will enable us to work together much more effectively and efficiently during whatever missions future requirements dictate.”
Noted Ian Irving, chief executive for Northrop Grumman Australia,“This is the first time that a Global Hawk has flown into an international airshow. This really speaks to the maturity and reliability of the system. As the Royal Australian Air Force seeks to procure the MQ-4C Triton UAS, a variant based on Global Hawk, they will be able to use the system’s capabilities to transform the way they conduct maritime surveillance missions.”