18 May 2000
The US Air Force's Global Hawk Unmanned Aerial Vehicle has been working hard during its first deployment on a major international joint military force exercise, Linked Seas '00. In the first of two flights the UAV flew a 28 hour sortie which took it across the Atlantic and back to its Launch and Recovery Element at Eglin AFB in Florida
During this flight, the UAV first travelled up the eastern coast of the United States, climbing to 51,000 feet where it demonstrated direct down-link of radar imagery to US Army systems located at Fort. Bragg in North Carolina, and US Navy systems onboard the USS George Washington, docked in Norfolk in Virginia. The aircraft then crossed the Atlantic to operate over Portugal.
During the flight Global Hawk took classified radar imagery of targets in Portugal and the Madeira Islands, disseminating these images via a relay station in the UK to SOUTHLANT, regional command for NATO's SACLANT, providing intelligence data for amphibious landings which were to follow as part of the exercise later in the week.
The second, 14 hour, flight was carried along the east coast of the United States when data was transmitted to the USS George Washington. The Mission Recovery Element at the Joint Warfighting Center at Suffolk in Virginia monitored cruise operations and imagery collection and dissemination.
According to Lt. Col. Mike Trundy, deployment commander, Global Hawk Office, Reconnaissance Systems Program Office which is developing the new UAV for future Department of Defense applications, saw a number of firsts. "This mission was the first trans-oceanic crossing for Global Hawk; first successful operation of the UAV in international airspace, involving simultaneous, sequenced control among three Atlantic airspace regulatory agencies; and first demonstration of Global Hawk's unique reconnaissance capabilities for NATO units," Trundy said.
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