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Unmanned Aircraft Continues Reconnaissance In Haiti

By Mike Mitchell
 
 

February 16, 2010 - "Thanks to Global Hawk's highly advanced sensors, which are capable of taking hundreds of images in a single mission, we've provided disaster assessments for various agencies to make real-time decisions," said Gen. Bob Otto, commander of the 9th Reconnaissance Wing, Beale Air Force Base, Calif. "The ability to fly 24-hour duration sorties meant the Global Hawk could support hundreds of ad-hoc requests while staying well clear of the relief workers and neighboring airports. Truly, Global Hawk's capabilities have proven invaluable to the worldwide humanitarian efforts in Haiti." 

U.S. Air Force Block 10 Global Hawk was diverted by the 12th Reconnaissance Squadron at Beale Air Force Base from its trip en-route to support usual wartime operations in Afghanistan to assist in relief efforts after Haiti's 7.0 magnitude earthquake on Jan. 12.  A Global Hawk took off from its main operating base at Beale Air Force Base, flew to Haiti, and provided 12 hours of coverage over the disaster area before landing at Patuxent River Naval Air Station, Md. Subsequent missions were launched from Maryland to provide 14 to 16 hours of persistent watch over Haiti before landing back at Patuxent River. 

"Not only has Global Hawk helped determine the extent of damages and usability of Haiti's infrastructure, it has also helped to find and recommend roadways and airfields accessible for delivering emergency supplies and rescuing injured and trapped people," said George Guerra, Northrop Grumman vice president of high-altitude, long-endurance systems.  "We are committed to supporting the ongoing relief efforts in Haiti for as long as necessary to help rebuild the lives of those affected." 

The Global Hawk team collaborated with other agencies to assist in all aspects of recovery and relief.  Officials and analysts from U.S. Southern Command in Miami, the 548th Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) Group from Beale Air Force Base, the 480th ISR Wing from Langley Air Force Base, and the Naval Air Systems Command Broad Area Maritime Surveillance Demonstration program from Patuxent River helped provide critically needed imagery and information. 

Capable of flying at altitudes up to 60,000 feet for more than 32 hours at a time at speeds approaching 340 knots, Global Hawk is equipped with an integrated sensor suite, which includes synthetic aperture radar, electro-optical and infrared sensors. Global Hawk has supported previous humanitarian relief efforts, including the southern and northern California wildfires in 2007 and 2008, respectively, as well as Hurricane Ike in 2008.

An aerial view of the damaged National Cathedral in Haiti from a U.S. Air Force Global Hawk unmanned aircraft Aerial images are providing U.S. military planners valuable situational awareness as they coordinate U.S. military support to the Haiti relief effort. Courtesy of U.S. Southern Command and Air Force.
 An aerial view of the damaged Presidential Palace in Haiti from a U.S. Air Force Global Hawk unmanned aircraft Aerial images are providing U.S. military planners valuable situational awareness as they coordinate U.S. military support to the Haiti relief effort. Courtesy of U.S. Southern Command and Air Force
 
Northrop Grumman Corporation is a leading global security company whose 120,000 employees provide innovative systems, products, and solutions in aerospace, electronics, information systems, shipbuilding and technical services to government and commercial customers worldwide.
 
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