Port of Call

Navy pilots who will operate the sea service’s RQ-4 Global Hawk unmanned aerial vehicles have come to Beale AFB, Calif., home of USAF’s Global Hawk operations, for instruction at the hands of the airmen of the 1st Reconnaissance Squadron who already have racked up thousands of hours flying them in combat. The airmen are teaching three active-duty Navy P-3 Orion pilots and one civilian contractor the art of flying the high-altitude, long-endurance reconnaissance platforms to help the Navy expedite its first deployment of its own Global Hawks into Southwest Asia next spring, according to a Beale release Nov. 10. “This is the initial Navy RQ-4 class, which is on an accelerated course,” said Lt. Col. Scott Coon, 1st RS director of operations. He added that the sailors are getting “top priority.” In fact, Beale officials bumped the next training course for airmen back by one month to fit in the Navy pilots. Plus, the normally five-month-long course is being condensed to four months. Air Force officials said this instruction could be the first step in creating a joint, multinational, and interagency training unit at Beale for the RQ-4. “There’s no reason for the Navy to spend the time and effort to do what we’ve already done,” said Coon. He noted that, “a joint approach seems to make sense in this situation.” The Navy has acquired two Global Hawk UAVs for a maritime demonstration; the sea service also chose a more-enhanced version of the Northrop Grumman-built UAV to be its future broad area maritime surveillance platform.