Since October 2004, the RQ-4 Global Hawk nested and flocked the airspace at Beale. However, the final RQ-4 Global Hawk assigned to the 12th Reconnaissance Squadron departed on July 7. The RQ-4 Block 30, the most recent model to reside here, was divested from the U.S. Air Force as part of a plan to restructure intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance to meet national defense priorities and support joint all-domain command and control capabilities. The divestment also assists in funding modernization and increases capability to counter threats posed by near peer competitors like China and Russia.
“The RQ-4 mission at Beale AFB has come to an end, and the 12th RS guide on will be folded perhaps by the end of this year,” said Lt. Col. Michael, 4th Reconnaissance Squadron Deputy. “Our personnel now have new opportunities across the Air Force.
“We must transform our force today to the Air Force we need tomorrow,” said Gen. C.Q. Brown, Jr., Air Force Chief of Staff. “The divestment of this weapons system was a tough but necessary resourcing choice we had to make in order to begin realizing a budgeted savings of over two billion dollars.”
Block 30’s from geographically separated units such as Beale AFB, Sigonella Air Station, and Anderson AFB are returning to the 319th Reconnaissance Wing in Grand Forks N.D. They will be transferred over to Northrup Grumman to be outfitted with different sensor technology before beginning their new careers as part of the Test Resource Management Center’s High Speed System Test department. The capabilities of the RQ-4 are far reaching, and the aircraft are engineered to be high-altitude, long-endurance, and equipped with integrated sensor suites to provide all-weather, day or night Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance.
The 12th RS and Block 30 aircraft have provided critical ISR for a number of named operations to include: ENDURING FREEDOM, IRAQI FREEDOM, ODYSSEY DAWN, FREEDOMS SENTINAL, and NEW DAWN. The Global Hawk has flown over 320,000 flight hours in support of global combatant command directives. At any given time, approximately 450 Airmen made the Block 30 mission possible from the 319th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, the logistical support given by the 9th Reconnaissance Wing, and from technical support agencies such as Northrup Grumman. The RQ-4 mission would not have been successful without the support from the men and women of the 69 RG from 2010-2019, to today’s 9th RW and the local community.