February 20, 2006

2006: Global Hawk No. 3 landed at Edwards AFB after a 23-hour flight from Australia. The RQ-4 returned from four years of operational duty, where it logged 4,245 combat hours supporting Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom, and Combined Task Force-Horn of Africa. This tour represented a first in history as the Global Hawk had simultaneously continued its testing while on a prolonged combat tour.
The Global Hawk UAV system comprises the RQ-4 air vehicle, which is outfitted with various equipment such as sensor packages and communication systems; and a ground element consisting of a Launch and Recovery Element (LRE), and a Mission Control Element (MCE) with ground communications equipment. Each RQ-4 air vehicle is powered by an Allison Rolls-Royce AE3007H turbofan engine with 7,050 lbf thrust, and carries a payload of 2,000 pounds. The fuselage uses aluminum, semi-monocoque construction with a V-tail; the wings are made of composite materials.