Global Hawk may be Japan’s new Spy Plane of Choice

Japan’s Ministry of Defense is determining whether the introduction of unmanned aerial vehicles will be necessary and plans to launch a full-scale study in 2011.

The most advanced high-altitude unmanned plane is the “Global Hawk (GH)” according to U.S. military officials. With aims to strengthen surveillance of the Chinese Navy and the Korean Peninsula, operations need to be stepped up in the waters around Japan, and the ministry is wondering if an unmanned vehicle program is a cost-effective implementation worth considering.

Unmanned aircraft, come with various benefits such as the length of flight time, no victims in conflict areas, and a proven worthy record as the U.S. military has used them effectively in Iraq.

The Global Hawk is currently used by the U.S. Air Force, has a total length of 14.5 meters and a width of about 40 meters. According to an official of the Ministry of Defense, three facilities need to be built to run an unmanned program, two maintenance facilities and another to function as headquarters, with a total cost of several hundred billion yen in the initial year and has become an issue of budgetary consideration.

Currently, the surveillance activity of Japan’s Maritime Self Defense Force is being conducted by manned aircraft, P3C patrol aircraft.