Pacific Air Forces officials said the first deployment of the RQ-4 Global Hawk to Misawa AB, Japan, is going well, with weather patterns not affecting sortie generation in any meaningful way thus far. The operating location in the north of Japan is proving to be ideal, Col. Dan Wolf, PACAF’s chief of warfighter integration at JB Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, told Air Force Magazine in early July. “It’s very early, but based on our analysis, it’s a better move for us because of weather patterns,” he said, adding that the Global Hawk is better able to get airborne more frequently and has fewer inclement weather delays than at Andersen AFB, Guam, for example. The Japan Air Self-Defense Force is excited to have the capability operating from Misawa and is interested in seeing how it performs, he said. Japan has expressed interest in expanding its portfolio of unmanned intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance assets, and, specifically, in acquiring Global Hawks. “We view [the deployment] as an opportunity for future discussions with our JASDF partners,” said Wolf. PACAF officials said there are no plans currently to rotate the Global Hawk to any other air base in Japan, such as Kadena on Okinawa.
The Air Force overall reduced its size by 120 aircraft in fiscal year 2021, but kept about the same number of fighter, bomber and attack aircraft, according to data supplied by the service. The F-35 fleet saw the biggest increase while the B-1B bomber fleet saw the largest decline.