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Beale's Global Hawk mission extends worldwide

8/25/2005 - BEALE AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. (AFPN) -- Airman with the 12th Reconnaissance Squadron here are part of the Air Force’s only operational Global Hawk Unmanned Aerial Vehicle unit.

The $35-million Global Hawk is used to provide Air Force and joint battlefield commanders near real-time, high-resolution intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance imagery. Cruising at higher than 65,000 feet, the Global Hawk can survey large geographic areas with pinpoint accuracy, to give military decision makers the most current information about enemy location, resources and personnel.

“It’s kind of awe inspiring,” said Lt. Col. Mark Corley, 12th RS commander, who has flown the plane from a mission control element here. “It’s the cusp of a new technology and it performed exactly the way it was controlled.”

The Global Hawk recently reached 4,000 combat flight hours during an operational mission supporting the war on terrorism.

This milestone has reinforced the value of the UAV and its effectiveness in fighting the war on terrorism, officials said.

“Reaching 4,000 combat hours is continued proof of the system’s reliability and its value to our men and women in combat,” said George Guerra, director of Northrop Grumman’s Air Force Global Hawk program.

The plane already has been used operationally despite being in its early stages of development, flying missions in Afghanistan since 2001 and Iraq since 2003. Its operational successes have paved the way for its continued participation in the war on terror, officials said. By 2008, officials expect to have 21 Global Hawks and 51 by 2012.

“We save lives on a daily basis,” said Col. Larry Wells, 9th Reconnaissance Wing commander. “We consider this plane priceless.” (Master Sgt. Tim Helton and Airman 1st Class Candace Romano from the 9th Reconnaissance Wing Public Affairs office contributed to this story)

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