> our title:

Global Hawk Makes Historic Flight from Grand Forks

> original title:

Global Hawk Makes Historic Flight from Grand Forks

(Source: US Navy; issued Aug. 8, 2012)

GRAND FORKS AIR FORCE BASE, N.D. --- The 69th Reconnaissance Group reached another milestone Aug. 7 with its first flight of a Block 40 RQ-4 Global Hawk from the flightline here.

Previously, the 69th RG had only conducted flights in deployed environments.

"We at the 69th Reconnaissance Group are very proud of our first successful flight of the RQ-4 Global Hawk," said Col. J. Scott Winstead, 69th RG commander. "It reflects countless hours of hard work and preparation on the part of our Airmen, civilian partners and the Federal Aviation Administration."

The RQ-4 Global Hawk is a high-altitude, long-endurance unmanned aircraft system with an integrated sensor suite that provides intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, or ISR, capability worldwide. It complements manned and space reconnaissance systems by providing persistent near-real-time coverage using imagery intelligence, or IMINT, signals intelligence, or SIGINT, and communications relay equipment to more closely link our command and control to ground and air units.

"The U.S. Air Force Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance enterprise provides information superiority to our Nation's top leaders to secure national objectives as well as our tactical warfighters in combat," said Winstead.

Currently, the focus is on integrating the RQ-4 into the GFAFB flying environment.

"Our pilots are already flying daily Afghanistan missions remotely from GFAFB and are well trained for local flying, but we need to work on developing and exercising local process and procedure for the local area so the local flying community gets used to our operation," said Winstead.

In the coming months, the sensors for the aircraft will be installed to practice surveillance procedures. Unlike the pilots, the sensor operators need to learn to use this new state-of-the-art technology and Northrop Grumman has teamed with the University of North Dakota to develop the training program.

Ultimately, after the initial cadre of sensor operators has been trained, nearly all of the Global Hawks will depart North Dakota and be flown to deployed locations where they will continue to be operated remotely by the 69th RG from Grand Forks.

"Just because you don't see us flying overhead Grand Forks, rest assured we will be full up employing these assets overseas," said Winstead.

"This is a team win for Grand Forks and begins a new era," said Winstead. "We couldn't have accomplished it without the support of our Airmen, the Airmen of the 319th Air Base Wing and the Grand Forks community - this is truly a 'One Team, One Fight' operation here."