The 348th Reconnaissance Squadron at Grand Forks Air Force Base (AFB) has achieved a new milestone by extending the operational range of the unmanned RQ-4 Global Hawk aircraft, reaching a record-breaking flight time of 34.8 hours.

This surpasses the previous record of 34.4 hours and the manufacturer’s record of 30 hours and 24 minutes.

The accomplishment is attributed not to new aircraft or advanced technology, but to innovative tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs) developed by Maj. Ryan Blakeney and his team.

Over six months, they meticulously analysed data to understand how factors such as weather patterns, wind currents, and even the aircraft’s paint affected fuel consumption.

Maj. Blakeney, the squadron’s Director of Operations, led a team of 14 pilots in a real-world test of these theories. The pilots took turns flying the aircraft, employing the newly devised TTPs, which included a series of shorter, more frequent climbs compared to traditional longer-duration climbs.

The mission exceeded expectations. Initial concerns about high fuel burn during the first 10 hours were alleviated when fuel consumption significantly dropped afterward. This not only secured a new record but also demonstrated the effectiveness of the new TTPs.

“This accomplishment wasn’t the result of a new aircraft or advanced technology. Instead, credit goes to innovative tactics, techniques, and procedures developed by Maj. Ryan Blakeney and his team,” noted a spokesperson from the squadron.

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George has a degree in Cyber Security from Glasgow Caledonian University and has a keen interest in naval and cyber security matters and has appeared on national radio and television to discuss current events. George is on Twitter at @geoallison
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Simon (@guest_822967)
1 month ago

Eeking out mpg gives more endurance.