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Global Hawk drone flies near North Korea ahead of Korean War anniversary

The U.S. military’s RQ-4 Global Hawk was deployed to the Korean Peninsula Sunday, according to online aviation tracker Radarbox. File Photo by Northrop Grumman/UPI
The U.S. military’s RQ-4 Global Hawk was deployed to the Korean Peninsula Sunday, according to online aviation tracker Radarbox. File Photo by Northrop Grumman/UPI | License Photo

July 26 (UPI) -- An unmanned U.S. reconnaissance aircraft flew over the Korean Peninsula ahead of North Korea's observance of "Victory Day," which marks the anniversary of the 1953 Korean Armistice Agreement.

Online tracker Radarbox showed data of movements of U.S. Forces Japan's RQ-4 Global Hawk Sunday. The tracker showed the surveillance aircraft leaving Yokota Air Base on Sunday morning then flying over central South Korea, News 1 reported Monday.

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The high-altitude plane also navigated an area just below the Korean demilitarized zone for more than 10 hours, aircraft data show. The Global Hawk traveled horizontally or east to west then back again, the report said.

The Global Hawk was deployed near North Korea last week, taking to the skies of South Korea Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, according to News 1.

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The deployment comes after the U.S. military temporarily stationed the RQ-4 at Yokota base.

The unmanned aerial aircraft can detect objects as small as 11 inches from an altitude of about 12 miles. The Global Hawk uses high-resolution synthetic aperture radar and long-range infrared sensors to gather intelligence, and is capable of performing missions for up to 42 consecutive hours.

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Earlier this year, the U.S. Air Force and Northrop Grumman confirmed that the RQ-4 was being modernized with a new ground control station, while providing a base for software upgrades to improve intelligence gathering, the National Interest reported.

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The Global Hawk's new control "man-machine interface" and "ad hoc tasking" will help the aircraft gather information faster without human interference, the manufacturer has said.

Surveillance flights of the Global Hawk came after the U.S. Air Force deployed early warning and control aircraft E-3B Sentry in May. The plane flew over southwestern and central South Korea, before turning westward toward South Korea's Yeonpyeong Island in the West Sea, or Yellow Sea.

The E-3B was also deployed in January over the Korean Peninsula ahead of North Korea's Eighth Party Congress.

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