Global Hawk Flying Over Japan

Northrop Grumman Drone used in relief efforts

By Bob Hansen
|  Tuesday, Mar 15, 2011  |  Updated 4:32 PM PDT
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The drone is best known for its missions flying over Afghanistan and Iraq but today it's flying over Japan.

"It's really a wise thing to do," said San Diego State professor Eric Frost. "How do you get images without endangering people?"

Frost oversees SDSU's own drone program called Viz Center.  The school sends up small radio controlled planes carrying digital cameras to help in local rescue efforts.  Frost says the smaller planes would be perfect in Japan to measure radiation where the nuclear power plants are threatening to overheat.

"Because you can throw it (a drone) away but you can't throw a person away," said Frost.

San Diego based Northrop Grumman developed the unmanned Global Hawk.  It is used around the world for surveillance of smugglers and enemy troops.  The plane is flying over the earthquake and tsunami damaged areas by request of the Japanese government.

The Global Hawk can create high definition images from as high as 60,000 feet and fly for as long as 35 hours. 

No one from Northrop Grumman or the U.S. Air Force could talk about the drone efforts on request of Japanese officials.

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