U.S. Air Force RQ-4 Global Hawk spy drone crashes in California

An RQ-4 Global Hawk unmanned surveillance aircraft operated by U.S. Air Force has crashed near Mount Whitney into the Inyo National Forest in California. The crashed occurred at approximately 1:45 p.m. local time.

The crashed spy drone was assigned to 9th Reconnaissance Wing at Beale Air Force Base, California, and was on a non-operational ferry flight from Edwards AFB to its home base. There are no reports of any injuries or fatalities on the ground.

Northrop Grumman RQ-4 Global Hawk

The RQ-4 Global Hawk is a large high altitude, long endurance unmanned aircraft powered by a single Rolls-Royce F137-RR-100 turbofan engine. The USAF has more than 30 RQ-4 surveillance drones.

It provides a broad overview and systematic surveillance using high-resolution synthetic aperture radar (SAR) and long-range electro-optical/infrared (EO/IR) sensors with long loiter times over target areas. It can survey as much as 40,000 sq. miles of terrain a day.

It has a service ceiling of 60,000 feet (18,288 meters) and can fly continuously for 34 hours with a range of 12,300 nautical miles. The unit price of a single RQ-4 is $222 million including developmental costs.

The RQ-4 Global Hawk has become a critical aerial asset for the Air Force as it gives joint battlefield commanders near real-time, high-resolution intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) imagery. The aircraft provides a clear information on enemy positions and targets effectively integrating with other manned and unmanned aircraft, and ground assets to prevail over hostile forces.

It provides multi-intelligence operations for six combatant commanders, and has been recognized as the safest aircraft in the inventory of the US Air Force.

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