The US Air Force (USAF) has declared initial operational capability (IOC) for the RQ-4 block 30 Global Hawk following successful deployment of the block 30 RQ-4 in Libya and Japan.

The USAF commander of Air Combat Command General William M Fraser III said, “The basic requirement for block 30 IOC is to support one continuous block 30 24-hour orbit for 30 days.

“There are enough assets and infrastructure in place to support the one continuous block 30 orbit requirement for the IOC.

“There is still much that needs to be done to reach Global Hawk full operational capability.

“To that end, we’ll continue working closely with Headquarters Air Force and Northrop Grumman.”

The Northrop Grumman RQ-4 Global Hawk is scheduled to completely replace the USAF Lockheed U-2 spy plane by 2015.