22 January 2001
The US Air Force has said that Beale Air Force Base in California is its preferred location for the first main operating base of the Global Hawk unmanned aerial vehicle. Other basing options for the Global Hawk include Edwards Air Force Base; Ellsworth Air Force Base in South Dakota, Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma and Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio.
Hawk is an unmanned aerial vehicle that provides commanders with high-altitude,
long-endurance, near-real-time intelligence.
"The Global Hawk system has so much potential that, when all is said and done, I predict it will be like the C-47," said Gen. John P. Jumper, commander of Air Combat Command. "The Air Force will have many of them. It is likely that the first bed-down location will be just that, the first, not the last.
"It is important that the first Global Hawk site be the best place for us to find out all we can about its capability, and the best place to fold it into a critical ongoing mission," he said.
"Co-locating Global Hawk with Beale's 9th Reconnaissance Wing and the U-2 mission will ensure Global Hawk transitions smoothly from initial bed-down to full operational capability," he said. "It also ensures that cultural issues associated with transitioning from manned to unmanned reconnaissance are in the hands of our current strategic reconnaissance experts at Beale. They are best suited to complete the transition with the least disruption to the mission."
Air Force officials are confident the Global Hawk programme will be a tremendous success. As such, the bases which were not identified as the preferred alternative are likely candidates for future follow-on missions and basing.
The basing decision is not final. The final decision will be made once the environmental assessment is completed. This analysis is slated for completion by March. The environmental impact analysis process examines issues such as land use; airspace and safety; air and water quality; noise; socio-economic impacts; biological and cultural resources; quality of training: and cumulative impacts.
The Air Force thinks the first of the 18 primary aircraft and personnel to begin arriving at the main operating base between fiscal 2002 and 2003, with initial capability to support limited operations beginning in fiscal 2003.
XQQAS XQQAR XQQIE