The US Air Force’s RQ-4 Global Hawks has reached a significant milestone by completing 30,000 combat flying hours and 1,500 combat sorties.

The 380th Air Expeditionary Wing from Beale Base, California, operates the Global Hawks.

Global Hawks provide the joint combatant forces with intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance collection capability, during peacetime, contingency and wartime operations.

The 380th EAMXS Hawk AMU superintendent Senior Master Sgt. Timothy Green said the aircraft had been a constant presence at the base, providing high altitude-long endurance ISR to the combatant commander.

“Because of the capability the RQ-4 brought, it has been able to pave the way for a future generation of RQ-4s and has driven the overall (UAS) programmes to even greater heights than expected,” he said.

“The aircraft has proved its capability and the importance of that capability to the theatre of operations more than tenfold.”

The RQ-4’s unique capabilities include its ability to take photos using its integrated sensor suite.

The 380th EAMXS Hawk AMU Global Hawk avionics systems craftsman Tech. Sgt. Edward Andrews said throughout those 30,000 combat hours, the aircraft had provided near real-time imagery to meet strategic planning across the full spectrum of the battlefield.

The Global Hawk system is equipped with a launch and recovery element (LRE), mission control element (MCE), sensors, communication equipment mission planning equipment, support element and trained personnel.