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Robins finishes Global Hawk work ahead of schedule

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Kelly Goonan
  • 78th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

A special ribbon-cutting ceremony, signaling the early completion of work on the first RQ-4 Global Hawk at Robins, was held on the base flight line here June 29.


The arrival of this unmanned aerial vehicle marked the first time an aircraft of this type has flown in to an Air Force air logistics complex.


During the ceremony, Brig. Gen. John Kubinec, Warner Robins Air Logistics Complex commander, spoke to the tremendous amount of work involved to get the Global Hawk not only on the Robins ramp but to get it in the impeccable condition in which it is now.

He said, “It’s nothing short of spectacular.”


“Our team was motivated and excited about bringing this workload here,” Kubinec said. “This is the beginning of a new chapter here at the Warner Robins ALC, but that pales in comparison to how big of a deal this is to the Airmen, Soldiers, Sailors and Marines who are in harm’s way right now that rely on the products this aircraft gives them every single day.


“It’s the warfighter who is the real winner here.”


The airframe is in high demand due to its capabilities in support of the full spectrum of military operations from combat operations against ISIS to humanitarian missions. Even NASA is using the Global Hawk to conduct environmental research.


Warner Robins Air Logistics Complex maintenance professionals meticulously painted the aircraft to prevent corrosion. While a programmed depot maintenance requirement for Global Hawk has not been established, the Air Force recognizes that having an organic maintenance capability for Global Hawk enhances the ability to manage the fleet and keep this resource flying.


“The process started five years ago when the Air Force and Department of Defense boards were making the initial decisions about where airframe work for the Global Hawk should be performed,” Col. Darien Hammett, Global Hawk Program Office director, said. “When you consider the decades of proven performance at Robins, we were not surprised when this base was chosen for that effort.”


Landing the Global Hawk came with unique challenges, Hammett said. The 78th Air Base Wing constructed the first and only building-based Launch and Recovery Element, allowing the aircraft to take off and land at Robins. Another challenge was addressing the Federal Aviation Agency’s concerns about bringing the Global Hawk into Atlanta airspace, which is home to the nation’s busiest airport.

“We’ve shown that we can bring a remotely piloted aircraft into a depot where there is a limitless amount of expertise,” Hammett said. “I challenge the team to look beyond the paint capability and ensure we are utilizing all of the abilities that Robins has to offer.”


Col. Sarah Christ, 78th Air Base Wing vice commander, pointed out just how unique the mission at Robins was for the Global Hawk.


“Aside from its home base, it’s a rarity for this aircraft to land anywhere inside the continental United States,” Christ said, adding that the success of the work done here validates an organic paint and refurbishment capability for the Global Hawk at Robins AFB. It ensures that this critical asset will continue to deliver intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities to combatant commanders for years to come.


Looking to the future Kubinec said that the work and repairs the air logistics complex accomplished will enable the Global Hawk to arrive on station faster where it’s needed, stay longer and provide more benefit to those in harm’s way.

“Our United States Air Force is always there,” he said. “The Global Hawk helps provide an unblinking eye that our Air Force provides to our joint partners, and the work we just did here will ensure that unblinking eye will be there when it’s needed.”