A remotely piloted U.S. Air Force RQ-4 Global Hawk aircraft landed Feb. 22, at Avalon Airport in Victoria, Australia, marking this the first time a high-altitude asset has flown into a non-military air base to be viewed by the general public.
The aircraft’s arrival at the 2015 Australian International Airshow and Aerospace & Defense Exposition enables civil authorities to personally see the high-altitude intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities of a platform that is critical to the success of the U.S. military’s rebalance to the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.
“This is significant on a number of fronts,” said Royal Australian air force Air Marshal Geoff Brown, the Chief of air force. “It is the first time a military unmanned aerial system (UAS) has been in civil airspace with a civil air traffic control service in Australia, and the first time a military UAS has landed at a civil airport. Additionally, we have a keen interest in seeing the RQ-4 up close given our recent acquisition of the MQ-4C Triton, which provides the needed capability to monitor and protect Australia’s vast ocean approaches.”
The safe arrival of the RQ-4 demonstrates that procedures developed in concert with the RAAF and civil air traffic control and aviation safety organizations can allow remotely piloted aircraft to operate safely in civil airspace, in a similar manner to manned aircraft. This arrival can also help pave the way for safe operation of Australia’s newly acquired MQ-4 Triton.
“The close coordination required to bring the Global Hawk to Australia will pay great dividends in the future,” said Col. Art Primas, the U.S. “air boss” at Avalon. “Creating standardized procedures will enable us to work together much more effectively and efficiently during whatever missions future requirements dictate.”
The integrated sensor suite aboard the Global Hawk provides theater commanders day and night all-weather ISR capabilities with greater than 24-hour loiter time, which contributes to stability and security of the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.
Approximately 100 Airmen are participating in airshow to showcase the capabilities of U.S. air assets.