Global hawk

The Japanese Ministry of Defence (MoD) has selected two Northrop Grumman-built aircraft systems to enhance the country’s intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities.

The E-2D Advanced Hawkeye airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) aircraft and the RQ-4 Global Hawk unmanned aircraft system (UAS) were chosen under a process known as type selection, which identifies the capabilities and systems to be purchased to address specific defence requirements.

Following this selection, the US Government will be asked to enter into the foreign military sale (FMS) process for the two systems.

"RQ-4 Global Hawk is a high-altitude, long-endurance UAS, designed to provide field commanders with high-resolution, near real-time imagery of large geographic areas."

Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems international vice-president Mary Petryszyn said: "Northrop Grumman has a long history working with Japan’s Air Self-Defense Force and we look forward to continuing that relationship for many years to come.

"We are very pleased the Japan MoD has expressed confidence in these systems and look forward to working with our US military customers through the FMS process."

Both the MoD and the company withheld further details citing contract terms, timing and quantities of aircraft, which are yet to be determined.

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However, Kyodo News reported last year that Japan intends to purchase three Global Hawk drones in April, with the Air Self-Defense Force’s base in Misawa as a strong candidate for their host.

RQ-4 Global Hawk is a high-altitude, long-endurance UAS, designed to provide field commanders with high-resolution, near real-time imagery of large geographic areas in support of military, humanitarian and environmental missions.

Capable of carrying a range of ISR sensor payloads, the drone enables commanders to detect moving or stationary targets on the ground, while providing airborne communications and information sharing capabilities to military units in harsh environments.

Powered by two T56-A-427A engines, the E-2D Hawkeye is an all-weather, carrier-capable tactical airborne early warning aircraft, featuring a new radar, theatre missile defence capabilities, multi-sensor integration and a tactical glass cockpit.

Image: The RQ-4 Global Hawk UAS provides wide-area surveillance capabilities to combatant commanders. Photo: courtesy of Northrop Grumman Corp.