Northrop Grumman has completed the first flight of Japan’s second RQ-4B Global Hawk unmanned air vehicle (UAV).

The latest milestone follows the completion of the maiden flight of Japan’s first RQ-4B Global Hawk UAV in April from Palmdale, California, US.

Japan is procuring three RQ-4 Block 30 (I) via the US foreign military sales (FMS) programme.

Following its deployment with the Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF), these UAVs will be combined with other Japanese intelligence platforms, as well as the ground-based command and control units.

The UAV is said to improve Japan’s intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities and monitor and deter regional threats.

Northrop claims that the RQ-4B is the only high-altitude, long-endurance UAV to deliver near-real-time on-demand data.

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With a larger wingspan and longer fuselage, and new generator, the RQ-4 has a range of more than 12,300nm, can fly up to 60,000ft and remain airborne for over 32 hours.

Northrop’s autonomous high-altitude, long-endurance (HALE) systems family, including Global Hawk, are a key component of global ISR data collection for allied nations and mutual defence organisations worldwide.

The US, Australia, Nato and Korea operate versions of Global Hawk.

It is in active service with the US Air Force since 2001. It has flown missions in support of military operations in Iraq, Afghanistan, North Africa, and the greater Asia-Pacific region.

Last December, Northrop conducted the RQ-4 Global Hawk’s first flight using the new modernised ground station.