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SASEBO NAVAL BASE, Japan — The Global Hawk unmanned aerial vehicle made its military debut in the Pacific region this month, according to the U.S. Air Force.

The first RQ-4B Global Hawk touched down Sept. 1 at its new home at Andersen Air Force Base on Guam after a flight from Beale Air Force Base in California.

The aircraft will be tested and evaluated before the long-range drones begin operating from the island territory, according to a news release from Beale, headquarters of the Global Hawk program.

Global Hawks have a range of 10,000 miles and will give the Air Force a reconnaissance range from Guam that stretches from Afghanistan and China to the western coast of South America.

The drones are slated to eventually replace the Cold War-era U-2 spy plane, which the U.S. military still uses in Asia.

The Air Force 12th Reconnaissance Squadron said the drones will be used to gather strategic military intelligence and lend humanitarian support, such as observing hurricanes or monitoring volcanic eruptions.

NASA used a Global Hawk for the first time to monitor a hurricane when it flew the drone and a DC-8 airplane over Hurricane Earl earlier this month.

The space agency also conducted the first scientific research flight with the drone over the Pacific in April.

trittent@pstripes.osd.mil

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