The U.S. continues to export its military drone technology to allies across the globe. The latest example is the U.S. Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) announcing late last week that the State department had approved the sale of three RQ-4 Block 30 (I) Global Hawk drones and ancillary equipment to emerging Asia-Pacific military power Japan.
The DSCA announcement emphasizes there is zero adverse impact on U.S. defense readiness related to the proposed drone sale to Japan, and that the sale of the equipment and support infrastructure will not significantly change the military balance in the area.
US to sell advanced Global Hawk drones to Japan
As the DSCA press release explains, the U.S. Congress has to approve the sale of the Global Hawk drones within the next 15 days in order to formally begin negotiations for the $1.2 billion arms deal. Per the DSCA, the Japanese government has requested the sale of:
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- Three (3) RQ-4 Block 30 (I) Global Hawk Remotely Piloted Aircraft with Enhanced Integrated Sensor Suite (EISS)
- Eight (8) Kearfott Inertial Navigation System/Global Positioning System (INS/GPS) units (2 per aircraft with 2 spares)
- Eight (8) LN-251 INS/GPS units (2 per aircraft with 2 spares)
Although a number of firms supply parts for the advanced Global Hawk drone systems, the primary U.S. defense contractor would be California-based Northrop Grumman Corporation.
Statement from DSCA
The November 20th press release from the DSCA notes that: “The proposed sale of the RQ-4 will significantly enhance Japan’s intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities and help ensure that Japan is able to continue to monitor and deter regional threats. The Japan Air Self Defense Force (JASDF) will have no difficulty absorbing these systems into its armed forces.”
The PR also provides details on the support equipment proposed as part of the sale: “Also included with this request are operational-level sensor and aircraft test equipment, ground support equipment, operational flight test support, communications equipment, spare and repair parts, personnel training, publications and technical data, U.S. Government and contractor technical and logistics support services, and other related elements of logistics support.”
Finally, the DSCA PR claimed: “This proposed sale will contribute to the foreign policy and national security of the United States. Japan is one of the major political and economic powers in East Asia and the Western Pacific and a key partner of the United States in ensuring regional peace and stability.”
The DSCA is primary agency in the Department of Defense responsible for arms sales, training and services to allies, as well as keeping up military-to-military contacts between friendly nations.
More on the Global Hawk UAVs
The U.S. Air Force website provides a description of its Global Hawk drone systems:
The RQ-4 Global Hawk is a high-altitude, long-endurance, remotely piloted aircraft with an integrated sensor suite that provides global all-weather, day or night intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) capability. Global Hawk’s mission is to provide a broad spectrum of ISR collection capability to support joint combatant forces in worldwide peacetime, contingency and wartime operations. The Global Hawk provides persistent near-real-time coverage using imagery intelligence (IMINT), signals intelligence (SIGINT) and moving target indicator (MTI) sensors.
Military analysts also point out Japan can use the new drones to keep a closer eye on Chinese activities in both the East and South China Seas.