On December 15, Japan Air Self-Defense Force (Koku Jieitai) established ‘Reconnaissance Group’ in Misawa Air Base.Commander of Air Defense Command presented the group flag to its commander at an inauguration ceremony of the unit in Misawa. Reconnaissance Group is a unit operating Northrop Grumman RQ-4B Global Hawk unmanned surveillance and reconnaissance aerial vehicle. RQ4B Global Hawk gather intelligence relatively far from Japan, and provide aerial surveillance in tense situations. The establishment of the group will help Koku-Jieitai acquire new capabilities and further enhance interoperability between Japan and the United States.
Japan has signed for three Northrop Grumman RQ-4 Global Hawk high-altitude long-endurance (HALE) unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), with a USD489.9 million contract awarded to the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) on 19 November. The US Department of Defense (DoD) contract for the Foreign Military Sale (FMS) covers three Block 30i (international) variants of the Global Hawk fitted with an enhanced integrated sensor suite payload, two ground control elements, spares and support equipment, and programme services. Each aircraft will be fitted with the Enhanced Integrated Sensor Suite (EISS).
The Northrop Grumman RQ-4 Global Hawk is a high-altitude, remotely-piloted surveillance aircraft designed by Ryan Aeronautical (now part of Northrop Grumman). It is used as a high-altitude long endurance (HALE) platform covering the spectrum of intelligence collection capability to support forces in worldwide military operations. The RQ-4 provides a broad overview and systematic surveillance using high-resolution synthetic aperture radar (SAR) and electro-optical/infrared (EO/IR) sensors with long loiter times over target areas. It can survey as much as 40,000 square miles (100,000 km2) of terrain per day, an area the size of South Korea or Iceland.
The Global Hawk UAV system comprises the RQ-4 air vehicle, which is outfitted with various equipment such as sensor packages and communication systems; and a ground element consisting of a Launch and Recovery Element (LRE), and a Mission Control Element (MCE) with ground communications equipment. Each RQ-4 air vehicle is powered by an Allison Rolls-Royce AE3007H turbofan engine with 7,050 lbf (31.4 kN) thrust, and carries a payload of 2,000 pounds (910 kilograms). The fuselage uses aluminum, semi-monocoque construction with a V-tail; the wings are made of composite materials. There have been several iterations of the Global Hawk with different features and capabilities.