Friday, October 31, 2008

An Extra Set Of Eyes To Observe Iran's Naval Forces

A Global Hawk maintenance team tows an unmanned Global Hawk aircraft at a theater in Southwest Asia. The aircraft has collected more than 96 percent of the target deck – nearly five thousand images of enemy locations, resources and personnel. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Christopher Matthews)

US Navy Global Hawk May Head To Middle East -- Defense Tech

This article first appeared in Aerospace Daily & Defense Report.

The U.S. Navy is considering deploying its first Global Hawk unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) to an air base near Iraq to experiment with its ability to conduct maritime surveillance, according to defense officials.

Navy officials declined to discuss the exact location for a deployment. "Longer-term options for the system may include additional deployment situations -- allowing the system to demonstrate its unique persistent maritime ISR capabilities in various overseas environments," says Chuck Wagner, a spokesman for Naval Air Systems Command.

According to other defense officials, the Navy Global Hawk is expected to arrive at a base in the Middle East early next year, and the aircraft will be co-located with Air Force Global Hawks already at that base. Defense officials declined to identify the base, citing security issues. But it is widely known that the Air Force's high-altitude reconnaissance aircraft supporting activities in Iraq and Afghanistan operate from Al Dhafra Air Base in the United Arab Emirates.

The high-flying Global Hawk is capable of collecting intelligence from above 55,000 feet altitude for a day or more at a time. The Global Hawk Maritime Demonstration (GHMD) vehicle, one of two Block 10 Global Hawks owned by the Navy, is carrying an integrated sensor suite. These aircraft were bought to allow the Navy to experiment with using a UAV for maritime surveillance. Using various modes -- for inverse synthetic aperture radar, maritime search and target acquisition -- this sensor can conduct surveillance of surface ships. The aircraft also carries the LR100, a basic signals intelligence collector.

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My Comment: Iran's naval commanders are not going to be amused.

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