KUALA LUMPUR: I refer to the story below by DefenseNews. Its sounds interesting, although it is still in the concept stage (the joint usage) do you think we should go for it especially for the Eyes In the Sky programme? Or is it too American for us? Certainly a much cheaper option from buying a whole fleet of UAVs
For Malaysian Defence it is a good concept and it will be much better if it is operated by Asean together with the US of course (other US allies like Japan, South Korea and Australia could have their own) which could bring the region military together finally.
The story refers to other countries as well such as Sri Lanka and others, but I believed it will be much better and much easier to put up if its only an Asean Global Hawk fleet.
What say you?
— Malaysian Defence
Pacific Rim Countries Could Get Global Hawk
By GAYLE S. PUTRICH
LAS VEGAS — The U.S. Air Force plans to host 11 friends and allies in Hawaii next spring to pitch the idea of working together to put more eyes in the skies over the Pacific.
At an unmanned systems conference in Las Vegas, Gen. Jeffery Remington, director of air, space and information operations for Pacific Command, outlined a plan to bring together representatives from Australia, Brunei, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, South Korea and Sri Lanka in April to discuss a regional consortium to buy and operate Global Hawk UAVs, which are built by Northrop Grumman.
At $27.6 million apiece, only a few of the countries can afford to buy a Global Hawk — perhaps Japan, Singapore and South Korea — so the consortium will allow more nations partial access to the long-range UAV, Remington said. Partners would agree to provide launch and landing sites for the Global Hawk and to share the information it gathers.
“The cost of admission is access,” he said. “The price of admission is cooperation.”
As new technology, sensors and UAVs become available, such as the Navy’s Broad Area Marine Surveillance (BAMS) sensor, they could be added to the consortium, he said.
The plan for the April summit is to kick off discussion at Hickam Air Force Base and then travel to Beal Air Force Base, Calif., home of the 9th Reconnaissance Wing, for a demonstration of the Global Hawk as it takes off, flies a mission and returns. The group would then head back to Hickam to wrap up details.
Of particular interest to all the countries would be monitoring the Straits of Malacca, the 500-mile stretch of sea between Indonesia and Malaysia that connects the Indian Ocean and the Pacific. Between one-fifth and one-quarter of the world’s shipping passes through the Malaccan strait, which has become an increasingly attractive target for modern-day pirates.
The Global Hawk is designed to gather radar, optical and infrared data from as high as 65,000 feet for as long at 35 hours.
The U.S. Air Force expects to start flying missions from Andersen Air Force Base on Guam in 2009.
Northrop Grumman officials said the arrangements are entirely in the hands of the Air Force and would go through government-to-government channels, but that the company enjoys the idea of global sales.
“Whatever they decide as far as Global Hawk, the requirements or the demonstration, we’re definitely ready to support them,” Northrop spokeswoman Renee Freeland said.
Remington said Global Hawk was the logical choice for an international UAV partnership because it is an unarmed air-breathing system that is easy to operate, “benign and not super-secret.”
But the focus on the consortium should be more on cooperation, he said, and not so much on the particular UAV.
“This is not about Northrop Grumman. This is not about selling Global Hawk to anyone,” he said. “This is about bringing countries and technology together and leveraging it. This is about saying, ‘We’re not going to spy on each other; we have to develop some kind of trust.’”
U.S. Pacific Command is working with the State Department, U.S. ambassadors to prospective partner nations and the Office of the Secretary of Defense, where opinions on the idea are split. Remington said the big question is: Will providing certain nations access to the Global Hawk stabilize or destabilize the region?
“You have to have that debate, and that is a debate that is going to go on inside the Beltway,” he said. “I don’t have the answers to those questions.”
There are also Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) rules to sort through. Because of its propulsion, the Global Hawk is treated like a cruise missile and not an airplane under the regulations.
The unmanned aircraft is also charting new territory through domestic air traffic control.
“The U.S. Air Force already has to contend with FAA [Federal Aviation Administration] restrictions at home, and putting more than 10 other countries into the mix will be difficult,” Remington said.
Standardizations and frequency allocations would have to be sorted out and would likely be difficult, particularly with Japan’s already crowded spectrum.
But some of the interested countries are already well ahead of the United States in handling unmanned systems. Singapore already has a UAV command, something the Pentagon has not yet put together.
Even with so much up in the air, Remington said, there is still plenty of room to get discussions going with potential partners.
“It’s in our interest to sell our technology to our friends,” he said. “We have to ensure that our friends in the Pacific can stand with us.”