The final US Navy RQ-4 Global Hawk departed Al Dhafra Air Base, United Arab Emirates, after 13 years of operations there as part of the Broad Area Maritime Surveillance—Demonstrator (BAMS-D) mission.
The final of three Global Hawks left its hangar one final time on June 16, 2022, en route to Naval Air Station Patuxent River, where all three BAMS-D Global Hawks now reside.
As a part of the BAMS-D mission, the US Navy utilized the Global Hawk to provide the naval fleet with electro-optical and infrared thermal imaging, along with synthetic aperture radar and inverse SAR imaging, while conducting operations as a maritime patrol, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance aircraft.
The high-flying aerial vehicle can fly persistently for more than 30 hours above most weather. Imagery and other data obtained by the aircraft feeds by satellite into the Navy ground segment consisting of a mission control element, a launch and recovery element, and a Navy-designed Tactical Auxiliary Ground Station (TAGS).
In addition, while at ADAB, BAMS-D provided operational support to the Commander, Task Force 57, a maritime surveillance and reconnaissance operations task force under US Naval Forces Central Command based in Bahrain.
Although the BAMS-D mission was set to last only six months, its service on station extended to approximately 13 years before the program was officially divested by the National Defense Authorization Act earlier this year.
“The purpose of our program was to operate out of ADAB in order to provide lessons learned from maritime demonstration to be used in future US Navy maritime operations with the Triton unmanned aerial vehicles,” said US Navy Lt. Cmdr. Kevin Laughary, the officer in charge of the BAMS-D forward operating location. “The mission effectiveness and reliability led to the extension of the mission as requested by higher authority.”
In a detachment made up of three uniformed personnel and 37 contractors, the BAMS-D mission at ADAB operated using three Global Hawks.
“Normal operations were to have two Global Hawks operate out of ADAB while the third was located in Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Md.,” said Laughary. “We rotated the three aircraft between the two sites to ensure all major maintenance and updates were performed in Pax River.”