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: http://www.theage.com.au/news/2001/04/21/FFXE95KTQLC.html Spy plane to cross Pacific by remote control By MARK FORBES DEFENCE CORRESPONDENT CANBERRA 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 aviation. 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 engine. 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 challenging. Yesterday the air force chief also launched a special commemorative postage stamp to mark the inaugural trans-Pacific flight by Global Hawk. ISN is hosted by SecurityFocus.com --- To unsubscribe email LISTSERVat_private with a message body of "SIGNOFF ISN".
This archive was generated by hypermail 2b30 : Mon Apr 23 2001 - 01:02:08 PDT