The US Air Force has deployed a squadron of RQ-4 Global Hawks, from Andersen Air Force Base, Guam to Yokota Air Base, Japan.
Based on a statement released by the 374th Airlift Wing Public Affairs, the rotational deployment of the Global Hawk to Japan is necessary to make sure Airmen can continuously function the platform during months in which inclement climate in Guam has the potential to hinder theater-wide operations by the summer to fall season.
The Global Hawk serves as a high-altitude, long-endurance, remotely piloted and unarmed, aerial reconnaissance system. The plane is designed to offer persistent, day and night, high-resolution, all-climate imagery of large geographic areas with a host of integrated sensors and cameras.
Along with supporting intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) requirements, the World Hawk can be used for humanitarian help and disaster reduction operations. One of its most notable missions was in assist of the humanitarian help and disaster relief efforts throughout Operation Tomodachi after the 2011 earthquake and tsunami.
Flying continuously for 21 days, using long-range and infrared cameras, the Global Hawk supplied commanders with more than 3,000 pictures of the catastrophe zone, including images of survivors in want of assist, and the status of the Fukushima Dai-Ichi Nuclear Plant, which had been damaged by the tsunami and led to issues of a radiation leak that would flood the already devastated region.
Since 2011, Pacific Air Forces has deployed the Global Hawk to Misawa Air Base, Japan, in 2014, 2015, 2018 and Yokota in 2017.