Northrop Grumman has delivered the first RQ-4B Global Hawk uncrewed air vehicle (UAV) to Japan.

The UAV reached Misawa Air Base in Japan in a non-stop transpacific flight of around 18.7 hours.

The milestone was achieved nearly a year after the company conducted the first flight of the UAV from Palmdale in California.

Under a foreign military sales programme, Japan will procure three RQ-4B Global Hawks to bolster its intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities.

Northrop Grumman global surveillance vice-president and general manager Jane Bishop said: “The arrival of the first Japan Global Hawk is an important milestone in the development of this critical security asset.

“The autonomous Global Hawk will provide the Japan Air Self-Defense Force with persistent, high-altitude surveillance of the Indo-Pacific. Global Hawk’s intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities will provide invaluable support to Japanese national security and to the security of allies across the region.”

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The RQ-4B Global Hawk is a high-altitude, long-endurance (HALE) UAV that can fly for more than 30 hours.

It features mission-specific sensors to meet ISR requirements.

Besides ISR missions, the RQ-4B Global Hawk can be used to monitor threats and in humanitarian and disaster relief efforts.

According to Northrop Grumman, the US Air Force (USAF) has been using Global Hawks since 2001. It has been used in military operations in Iraq, Afghanistan, North Africa and other places, and has completed more than 320,000 flight hours.

Recently, Northrop Grumman secured a $341m contract from the US Space Force (USSF) Space Systems Command (SSC) for the Deep-Space Advanced Radar Capability (DARC).