U.S. Air Force enlisted personnel will be able to fly the remotely-piloted vehicles commonly known as drones, officials announced today. The idea has been kicked around for many years in one form or another, but the recent drone pilot crisis seems to have finally made the Air Force change its ways.
Global Hawk is one of those drones so monumental and confounding that it becomes a perfect target for our cynical tendency to search for negatives, to decry the high cost and delight in mechanical flaws—as if any war machine could be perfect.
China has reportedly been trying to jam U.S. Air Force RQ-4 Global Hawk flights flying over the increasingly volatile South China Sea. Meanwhile, they are busy perfecting their own High Altitude Long Endurance (HALE) unmanned aircraft, with new pictures of a twin fuselage design emerging on the internet.
The Global Hawk has been flying for close to 15 years, and its development has been a twisting road filled with dead ends and wandering requirements. After over $10B spent and almost 50 airframes produced I ventured to Edwards AFB to get a rare close up look at what we actually paid for.
Foxtrot Alpha ventured to Edwards AFB late last spring to catch up with the RQ-4 Global Hawk test team to see how the program was progressing. While there, we also got a unique first-hand account of what it is like to 'fly' an aircraft that essentially flies itself.
While the world is tied up in the mystery of what happened to Malaysian Air Flight 370, testers at Edwards AFB in south central California and at Naval Air Station Patuxent River in Maryland are hard at work developing the ultimate tool for solving such a mystery, the Northrop Grumman built MQ-4C Triton.
The venerable U-2 'Dragon Lady' is a spy plane born from Cold War necessity that soldiered on operationally for decades past anyone's wildest dreams. She went from sleek design to a bulging beast of burden whose silhouette can change as fast as her mission requires it to. Here's a guide to her many configurations.
We often think of drones as distant hovering sparrows in the sky, buzzing and cooing, firing off the occasional Hellfire missile. But they're enormous flying machines with massive wingspans. And when they crash, they sure leave a giant flaming mark.
The Lockheed U-2 was designed to keep tabs on the Soviet Union over half a century ago. The RQ-4 Global Hawk drone was designed to replace this 50s antique. But how strange you are, fate! The U-2's replacing its successor.
I keep forgetting about how damn huge some drones are. Most people think they are tiny, like toy planes. As this photo of a Northrop Grumman RQ-4 Global Hawk shows, they are actually big. Big as in pretty damn huge.
An unmanned Global Hawk recon drone will join a team of aircraft—all equipped with advanced weather instrumentation—to observe the 2010 storm season closer than ever before.
In mid-June, a single-turbine helicopter took off from a test field in Mesa, Arizona, avoided obstacles in-flight, scoped out a landing site and landed safely. It's like the kind of flight choppers have made tens of thousands of times before.