Honolulu (AP) - The
Pacific Air Forces Cmdr. Gen. Gary North said Thursday that the Global Hawk drone will help the Air Force gather intelligence and conduct surveillance and reconnaissance.
North said the unmanned planes would complement missions currently operated by the U-2 spy plane and the RC-135, another surveillance plane, in the Asia-Pacific region. The U-2 plane, for example, is used for missions in South Korean airspace.
The Air Force was planning a ceremony to formally welcome the planes to Andersen Air Force Base on Monday. It plans to base three of the remotely operated planes on the
The plane can fly at altitudes of 60,000 feet -- high above most countries' defenses. It's able to stay in the air for more than 32 hours at a time, in part because it doesn't need to swap crews.
"It flies for more than a day -- and it flies at very good speeds -- so you could transit a long distance and then be able to recover at your home base," North said. "When you can keep it up for 30 hours or more, that is tremendous."
Bruce Bechtol, an expert on security issues on the Korean peninsula, said the
"You need this because, for lack of a better term,
North declined to discuss specific nations the Global Hawk would be monitoring.
He said the planes also would have roles in responding to disasters, similar to last January when the Air Force sent one to survey earthquake damage in
The planes could be used to help the Coast Guard monitor for illegal fishing in
The planes are currently only based in two other places: Beale Air Force Base in
The command's area stretches from central Asia to eastern