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High Flyers (Cont.)

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The largest platforms, such as Global Hawk, and other High Altitude Long Endurance (HALE) systems currently under development, are performing missions similar to Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellites. Typical equipment used the multi-sensor package of Electro-Optical / Infra-Red (EO/IR) and SAR radar. As HALE systems fly at very high altitudes, the details provided by its EO/IR sensors are sufficient for general intelligence gathering, but for close-in investigation of time critical targets, a closer look is essential. High flying UAS can descend to lower altitude for a closer look, but this is commonly done with UAS flying at medium altitude. A significant advantage of UAS over satellites is their capability to loiter over a particular area, and cover a specific location for an extended time period. This usually requires changing the mission planning, or penetration of a closed airspace. Alternatively, the UAV can deploy an expendable sensor (mini UAV) which can descend and loiter at lower altitude over an area for an extended period. Fighter aircraft equipped with EOIR targeting pods or other UAV systems, (such as Predator) can be used to augment the HALE mission and seek specific targets spotted by a high flying Global Hawk.
BEALE AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- Airmen here check over a Global Hawk Unmanned Aerial Vehicle recently. The aircraft is the first assigned to the 12th Reconnaissance Squadron and will be used to support worldwide contingencies. Cruising at more than 65,000 feet, the Global Hawk is used to provide Air Force and joint battlefield commanders near real-time, high-resolution intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance imagery. (U.S. Air Force photo by John Schwab)

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  Updated: 10/18/2006

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