The United States is delivering an RQ-4 Global Hawk unmanned high-altitude surveillance aircraft to the Republic of Korea (ROK) this week, according to the U.S. Ambassador to South Korea Harry Harris.
“Congratulations to the U.S.-ROK Security Cooperation teams on delivering Global Hawk to the ROK this week. A great day for ROKAF and the ironclad US-ROK Alliance”, tweeted Ambassador Harris on Sunday, April 19.
The tweet posted by Ambassador Harris showed two Global Hawk platforms parked in a hangar in an unidentified location. Both aircraft had the livery of the Republic of Korea Air Force (ROKAF).
Congratulations to the U.S.-ROK Security Cooperation teams on delivering Global Hawk to the ROK this week. A great day for ROKAF and the ironclad #USROKAlliance. @USForcesKorea pic.twitter.com/y5dfjCZPiO
— Harry Harris (@USAmbROK) April 19, 2020
On 17 December 2014, Northrop Grumman was awarded a $657 million contract by South Korea for four RQ-4B Block 30 Global Hawk aircraft. The first RQ-4 reportedly arrived at a base near Sacheon, South Korea in December last year. All the four contracted RQ-4s are expected to be delivered by this year.
The Northrop Grumman RQ-4 Global Hawk is a High-Altitude Long Endurance (HALE) remotely-piloted aircraft (RPA) initially designed by Ryan Aeronautical (now part of Northrop Grumman), and known as Tier II+ during development.
The aircraft performs duties similar to that of the U.S. Air Force Lockheed U-2 Dragon Lady manned high-altitude surveillance aircraft.
The RQ-4 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 square miles (100,000 km2) of terrain a day, an area the size of South Korea or Iceland.
The U.S Air Force (USAF) is the primary operator of the Global Hawk. It is also operated by the Republic of Korea Air Force (ROKAF), NATO (known as RQ-4D Phoenix Alliance Ground Surveillance, AGS) and NASA, and is also ordered by the Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF).
The U.S. Navy has developed the Global Hawk into the MQ-4C Triton maritime surveillance platform.