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Technology Factsheet

RQ-4 – GLOBAL Hawk

Category: Robotics > Characterization and Inspection > Airborne System
Reference # : Model No :

A remotely piloted aircraft, the RQ-4 Global Hawk provided surveillance in Fukushima, it was able to capture images and temperatures to identify the boundaries of the radioactive plume.

Industry:Defense/Homeland Security
Size:Very Large (>100kg/200lb, >120cm/48in)
TRL:Operational (9)
TRL2:Operational (9)
Tether: *
Waterproof: *
Payload: *
Reach: *
Manipulator: *




A combat-proven HALE UAS with extraordinary ISR capabilities, providing near-real-time high resolution imagery of large geographical areas all day and night in all types of weather. The current Global Hawk enterprise is made up of four complimentary systems, or Blocks. Block 10, the initial airframe after the DARPA technology demonstration, was deployed overseas shortly after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks and quickly proved its usefulness. Block 20, the first production version, was unveiled in August 2006. Block 30 adds critical signals intelligence (SIGINT) capability to the Global Hawk family. And Block 40, currently in the final development stages, will provide revolutionary new capabilities with the Multi-Platform Radar Technology Insertion Program (MP-RTIP) active electronically scanned array radar. During its trials with the Air Force's 31st Test and Evaluation Squadron and during its first deployment in Operation Enduring Freedom, the Global Hawk system was shown to be flexible and dynamically re-taskable.

Specifications (Block 30 and Block 40)

Wingspan: 130.9 ft (39.9 m)
Length: 47.6 ft (14.5m)
Height: 15.4 ft (4.7 m)
Gross Take-off Weight: 32,250 lbs. (14,628 kg)
Maximum Altitude: 60,000 ft (18.3 km)
Payload : 3,000 lbs (1,360 kg)
Ferry Range: 12,300 nm (22,780 km)
Loiter Velocity: 310 knots True Air Speed (TAS)
On-station Endurance at 1,200 nm: 24 hrs
Maximum Endurance: 32+hrs

Operational Experience:Fukushima Experience

The RQ-4 Global Hawk arrived 22 hours after the earthquake struck, and the images they captured identified the boundaries of the radioactive plume around the island.

The Japanese government asked if the Global Hawk could use its infrared cameras to determine the temperature inside the Fukushima Dai-ichi power plant — a possible warning of a meltdown. They couldn’t, but airmen figured out that the plane could record the temperature in its area over time and compare the results.

The process was to take an image of the temperature of the reactor and come back the next day and take an image and if it was hotter, then a problem has been identified.

Over the next two months, the Global Hawk flew 20 missions, spent more than 300 hours circling the site of the power plant and snapped thousands of images to share with the Japanese government and aid groups.

The Japanese earthquake wasn’t the first time the Global Hawk was used for humanitarian missions. It has flown over fires in California and also provided imagery after a 2010 earthquake destroyed much of the Haitian capital, Port-au-Prince.

(Source: UAV Global Hawk Link )



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