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News > Flying into the Fight: RQ-4 Block 40 Global Hawk deploys to war for first time
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RQ-4 Block 40 Global Hawk deploys to war for the first time
An RQ-Block 40 Global Hawk operated by the 69th Reconnaissance Group takes off from Grand Forks Air Force Base, N.D., Sept. 19, 2013. The historic flight marked the first time the Block 40 deployed to war. (U.S. Air Force photo illustration/Staff Sgt. Luis Loza Gutierrez) (This image was cropped to focus on the subject and was manipulated by adding text to the top and bottom with drop shadow effect)
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Flying into the Fight: RQ-4 Block 40 Global Hawk deploys to war for first time

Posted 11/20/2013   Updated 11/21/2013 Email story   Print story


by Staff Sgt. Luis Loza Gutierrez
319th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

11/20/2013 - GRAND FORKS AIR FORCE BASE, N.D. -- Air Force history was made with an unmanned aircraft here earlier in September.

An RQ-4 Block 40 Global Hawk took off from Grand Forks Air Force Base, N.D., and flew into war for the first time Sept. 19, 2013.

"Although Global Hawks have been supporting our warfighters in Afghanistan and elsewhere for more than a decade, this is the first time this specific model has been deployed into war," said Col. Lawrence Spinetta, commander of the 69th Reconnaissance Group, the unit in charge of conducting Global Hawk missions.

The RQ-4 Global Hawk is a high-altitude, long-endurance unmanned aircraft system with an integrated sensor suite that provides intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, or ISR, capability worldwide.

Global Hawks are produced in four distinct blocks or models: Block 10, 20, 30 and 40. Block 40 uses the Radar Technology Insertion Program, an active electronically scanned array radar, to provide Synthetic-aperture radar (SAR)and Ground Moving Target Indicator (GMTI) data to combatant commanders.

"This historic flight is a testament to the hardworking maintenance personnel, supportive leadership, countless pilots, sensor-operators, and contractors who have put hundreds of hours testing, evaluating, and preparing for its launch into war," said Spinetta. "They have built the necessary momentum to succeed and accelerate in the dynamic environment the aircraft will face in a combat arena."

This recent flight into war isn't the only Global Hawk milestone the Airmen at the 69th RG have been a part of this year.

On Sept. 5, the RQ-4 achieved 100,000 flight hours, a significant achievement for the combat-proven intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance system.

"You can't help but feel a great sense of pride to be part of important moments such as these," Spinetta said. "The Block 40's GMTI provides a much-needed capability for our troops overseas, allowing them to track vehicular movement of enemy forces in near-real time over large areas, regardless of weather."

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