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US RQ-4 on short-term deployment in Singapore

In what is likely a precursor to RQ-4 operations from Singapore, the US Air Force flew a Global Hawk from the 319th Reconnaissance Wing, Grand Forks AFB, North Dakota, to Singapore Changi Airport for the 2022 Singapore Airshow. This photo was taken on 18 February 2022. (US Marine Corps/Cpl Bryant Rodriquez)

The United States has deployed a Northrop Grumman RQ-4 Global Hawk unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) in Singapore.

In a statement on 14 March, the Singapore Ministry of Defence (MINDEF) said that the RQ-4 was part of a short-term deployment to the island country. MINDEF added the deployment as part of an earlier agreement with the US.

“Singapore facilitated the short-term deployment of an RQ-4 Global Hawk unmanned aerial vehicle, as part of the 1990 Memorandum of Understanding Regarding United States Use of Facilities in Singapore (1990 MOU),” MINDEF said.

“The 1990 MOU facilitates US forces' access to Singapore's air and naval bases on a rotational basis,” MINDEF added.

MINDEF declined to provide additional details about the deployment, at the time of publication. Based on media reports, it is possible that the short-term deployment began in January 2023. The UAV, however, does not appear in satellite imagery of Changi Air Base (East). The airbase shares a runway with Changi international airport.

A Janes assessment of imagery of the aircraft at Changi airport has nevertheless determined that the UAV is stationed near the Republic of Singapore Air Force's A330 MRTT fleet at the base. Janes has reached out to the US Pacific Air Forces (PACAF) for comment.

As a high-altitude long-endurance (HALE), the RQ-4 can loiter at altitudes of 15,240–19,810 m (50,000–65,000 ft) at speeds of over 310 kt, according to Janes data. The UAV can remain on station for 24 hours and has a range of 12,000 n mile.

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