Master Sgt. Russell P. Petcoff is assigned to the Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs. This blog is the result of a Department of Defense Blogger’s Roundtable held Jan. 15 and discussed one aspect of Air Force Humanitarian Relief to Haiti.
WASHINGTON – An Air Force RQ-4 Global Hawk is providing imagery to determine the extent of damage to earthquake-stricken Haiti and usability of its infrastructure, said the vice commander of the 480th Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Wing.
“A lot of images of destroyed buildings,” said Col. Bradley G. Butz, 480th ISR vice commander. They are looking at images of airports to find airfields to land aircraft. The image quality and clarity is good enough whether or not an airfield can accept aircraft, the colonel added.
“We’ve got pretty good coverage of the entire country of Haiti,” Colonel Butz said.
The Global Hawk is a high-altitude, long-endurance UAS with an integrated sensor suite that provides worldwide ISR capability.
The 480th ISR, based at Langley Air Force Base, Va., is providing its images to U.S. Southern Command officials for use by whomever needs the images, Colonel Butz said. The objective is mass distribution to people and organizations that need the images to support relief and recovery operations, he added.
These images can help determine the level of destruction since aerial images of Haiti exist from June 2009. Comparing the June 2009 and the January 2010 can give an indication of the extent of the disaster. Without context “we just don’t know the impact,” the colonel said.
In addition, the Global Hawk provides assistance to soldiers of the 82nd Airborne Division who are deploying to Haiti. The Global Hawk is providing images of where the Soldiers are deploying to help them prepare for their mission, Colonel Butz said.
The Global Hawk flew 14 hours Jan. 14, providing between 400-700 images, the colonel said. It is flying daily out of Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Md. The colonel said the Global Hawk will continue providing Haitian overflight support as long as the president requests.
This is the first use of the Global Hawk in a disaster relief mission in the Caribbean, according to the colonel.
Photo cutline: An aerial view of the damaged National Cathedral in Haiti by a U.S. Air Force Global Hawk unmanned aircraft system Jan. 14. Aerial images are providing U.S. military planners valuable situation awareness as they coordinate U.S. military support to the Haiti relief effort. (Release by U.S. Southern Command)