[ISN] Remote controlled spy planes

From: Darren Reed (darrenrat_private)
Date: Sun Apr 22 2001 - 05:34:24 PDT

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    Since there was an email through here about the EP-3 goings on up in the
    South China Sea, I thought I'd mention something else which made the local
    papers and I believe of relevance - URL:
    Spy plane to cross Pacific by remote control
    Saturday 21 April 2001
    The flying machines of the future may take wing without their magnificent men. Tomorrow's
    historic trans-Pacific flight of the unmanned Global Hawk is seen as the next step for military
    Announcing the flight, air force chief Air Marshall Errol McCormack said unmanned aerial
    vehicles (UAVs) could help replace Australia's fleets of F/A-18 and F-111 jets. More
    immediately, UAVs are likely to replace conventional spy planes - avoiding the risks to crews
    demonstrated by China's seizure of a United States plane this month.
    The RAAF is likening Global Hawk's flight to Sir Charles Kingsford Smith's first crossing of
    the Pacific. Leaving California's Edwards Air Force Base on Sunday, it should take 24 hours
    to reach South Australia's Edinburgh RAAF base, controlled by teams of US and Australian
    pilots from Edinburgh.
    During the trip, and on arrival, the $15 million Global Hawk will be tested for surveillance use
    in Australian conditions. It will undertake a series of test flights then take part in a major
    military exercise off Australia's north-east coast.
    A spokesman for the Defence Science and Technology Organisation, which has worked with
    the US to adapt the plane for Australian conditions, particularly maritime surveillance, said it
    "shows the way of the future for surveillance and reconnaissance in our region".
    Air Marshall McCormack said that in a 24-hour period the Global Hawk could conduct
    effective surveillance of an area twice the size of Tasmania. It could assist with coastal
    surveillance and customs along with its military applications. "The air force is currently
    reviewing, as part of Project Air 6000, the replacements for F/A-18 and F-111 fleets and it is
    highly possible that our future capability could well include UAVs such as Global Hawk," he
    said. Air Marshal McCormack said he did not see UAVs taking over the entire load of the air
    force "at this stage", because of the bandwidth required to remotely control the craft. Several
    teams of pilots will control the Global Hawk during its non-stop flight, using radio signals
    bounced off communications satellites. With a wingspan similar to a Boeing 737's, it will cruise
    above 50,000 feet at a speed of more than 600 kmh, powered by a Rolls Royce turbo-fan
    Using an array of electronic sensors, it can scan 31,000 square kilometres of sea or land in
    two minutes.
    Air Marshall McCormack said that towards the end of a decade would be a "good time" to
    introduce UAVs into the RAAF. The US is planning two operational UAVs commissioned in
    its air force after 2005.
    Global Hawk had its first successful flight in February, 1998. Five pilotless aircraft have since
    made more than 70 flights including one across the Atlantic Ocean from Florida to Portugal
    and returning. The trans-Pacific flight to Australia would be Global Hawk's longest and most
    Yesterday the air force chief also launched a special commemorative postage stamp to mark
    the inaugural trans-Pacific flight by Global Hawk.
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