by Airman 1st Class Ramon A. Adelan
9th Reconnaissance Wing Public Affairs
11/3/2015 - BEALE AIR FORCE BASE, California -- Airmen
at Beale Air Force Base, California, work around the clock to ensure
the U.S. Air Force's fleet of RQ-4 Global Hawks are prepared to support
The RQ-4's mission is to provide a broad spectrum of high-altitude
intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance collection capability to
support joint combatant forces in peacetime, contingency and wartime
operations worldwide. The Global Hawk provides near-real-time coverage
using a variety of sensors.
"Beale has been established as the unofficial depot for the Global Hawk
program," said Master Sgt. Wes Sullivan, 12th Aircraft Maintenance
Squadron production superintendent. "The stations where aircraft are
located take care of standard maintenance, but we provide the large
Sullivan added, just like motor vehicles, aircraft require servicing
periodically after certain intervals. For vehicles its miles, for
aircraft its flights.
It takes a team of crew chiefs, avionic specialists, fabricators, and
non-destructive inspection (NDI) specialists to ensure the integrity of
the aircraft meets flight requirements.
"We work 24-hour operations to provide the [forward operating location] a
serviceable aircraft to continue the mission," said Staff Sgt. Derek
Harris, 12th AMU RQ-4 dedicated crew chief. "It's a constant struggle to
coordinate everything between different back-shops, but somehow we find
the efficient and effective way to balance it to provide a safe and
reliable aircraft to FOLs in a timely manner."
The aircraft starts it's inspection by being disassembled, so parts can
be inspected by the NDI section. NDI interprets and evaluates defective
anomalies on parts using magnetic particle, ultrasonic, eddy current,
radiographic, liquid penetrate and other emerging technologies.
"While NDI has their tasks, the crew chiefs and avionic specialists
complete the delayed discrepancy write ups and replace parts that are
faulty," Sullivan said. "We basically re-service the aircraft and send
it to its next mission."
The re-servicing can be anything from replacing engine components to updating parts of the avionics system.
The 12th AMU communicates with commands around the world to keep an
update on the status of each RQ-4. This gives both parties the ability
to continue meeting mission demands.
"When you look over fleet dynamics you need to consider the command's
mission demands and how we accommodate that while getting jets here to
inspect," Sullivan said. "It's like a choreographed routine; we plan out
the pieces to make the proper movements because the mission never