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We’re about to add a big, strange-looking aircraft to the museum’s collection. On Friday September 2nd, an RQ-4 Global Hawk unmanned aircraft is scheduled to arrive at Robins Air Force Base on board a C-5 Galaxy cargo airplane. After museum restoration personnel put the Global Hawk back together, it will be displayed elevated in the Century of Flight Hangar.

An RQ-4 Global Hawk in flight.

The RQ-4 is a high-altitude, long-endurance, unmanned aircraft system. In other words, it can fly really high (60,000 feet above the ground), really far (over 9,500 miles), it doesn’t carry a pilot, and it’s a “system,” so there’s more to it than just the aircraft itself. Though the Global Hawk can fly a mission pretty much autonomously, it is monitored by a pilot and a sensor operator, who can take control the aircraft.

It’s a big airplane. The wings are 116 feet from tip to tip and the fuselage is 44 feet long. It’s not pretty, but I think it’s cool all the same, like something out of a sci-fi movie.

This U.S. Air Force photo of a Global Hawk by Staff Sgt. Christopher Matthews gives a sense of the size of the aircraft.

Our aircraft, #2011, flew 357 combat sorties for a total of 7,074.4 combat hours and currently has more combat sorties and hours than any other Global Hawk. The last flight of 2011 was in May of this year from a base in Southwest Asia to Beale AFB in California, with a single stop at Naval Air Station Patuxent River,Maryland, along the way. #2011 was part of the first block or group of production aircraft, known as “Block 10.” The US Air Force recently retired its Block 10 aircraft in favor of newer Block 20 and 30 aircraft.

 The Global Hawk uses radar and cameras to provide what’s called “ISR,” or Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance. As you’ve seen in the news over the years, ISR has played a critical role in operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Warner Robins Air Logistics Center performs program management for the RQ-4 Global Hawk and other unmanned aircraft systems.

Make sure to follow us on twitter (@MOAatRAFB) for updates and hopefully some pictures of RQ-4 #2011 when it arrives on Friday.

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