ukraine: US Air Force spy plane takes spotlight in empty Ukraine airspace

FRANKFURT: While Ukraineairspace was largely empty during the crisis with Russiaa remotely controlled United States military vehicle known as the RQ-4 Global Hawk flew around the country for hours at a time.
Over the past month, two of the drones have carried out routine missions from the Mediterranean Sea to Ukraine, where they have moved in repeated loops to the north and east, according to Flightradar24.
The high-altitude, long-haul drones’ flights coincided with Russia’s military build-up along Ukraine’s border and a series of diplomatic measures between the leaders of the United States, Europe and Russia aimed at deterring it. war.
At times, these two planes – under the designations Forte10, Forte11 and Forte12 – are the only operational planes seen publicly over eastern Ukraine. Aviation observers have taken note, speculating that the United States is making its presence known in a show of force.
“With flights of this type, turning on the transponder is a conscious decision,” said Ian Petchenik, communications director for Flightradar24.
The US Air Force declined to comment on details of the flights but said the United States regularly operates planes to support intelligence goals.
“These missions demonstrate our continued commitment to safety and security in the region,” the spokesperson said.
On Monday night, Forte11 returned to the Mediterranean after a nearly 24-hour trip through Ukraine. Its transponder exploded at low altitude near Naval Air Station Sigonella in Sicily. It’s the same 13th quest.
According to the Air Force’s website, the mission of these planes is to gather intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance “to support joint combat forces in peacetime, contingency and wartime around the world.”
their manufacturer, Northrop Grummansays the planes see “potential threats” and “gather near-real-time, high-resolution images of large areas of land in all types of weather – day or night.”
The route has gained prominence because international commercial aviation, in addition to extreme caution, has largely avoided Ukrainian airspace, especially east along the Russian border.
On February 15, Flightradar24 said Forte11 was its most-tracked flight, and later reported that it had flown for more than 21 hours.
The plane has a wingspan of nearly 40 meters and is 15 meters long, and can often fly more than 30 hours.
In 2014, the ship went 34.3 hours without refueling, setting a record for the US Air Force, according to its website.
Northrop Grumman supplied this aircraft to the USAF for 20 years. In August, it won a five-year contract to maintain aircraft carriers for NATO.

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