BAMS-D Global Hawks return home after 13-year mission

  • Published
  • By TSgt Jeffrey Grossi
  • 380 AEW

After 13 years at Al Dhafra Air Base, United Arab Emirates, the last U.S. Navy RQ-4 Global Hawk, attached to the Broad Area Maritime Surveillance—Demonstrator mission, left its hangar one final time on June 16, 2022. As a part of the BAMS-D mission, the U.S. Navy utilized the Global Hawk to provide the naval fleet with electro-optical and infrared thermal imaging, along with synthetic aperture radar and inverse SAR imaging, while conducting operations as a maritime patrol, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance aircraft. In addition, while at ADAB, BAMS-D provided operational support to the Commander, Task Force 57, a maritime surveillance and reconnaissance operations task force under U.S. Naval Forces Central Command based in Bahrain.

Although the BAMS-D mission staged out of ADAB, was set to last only six months, its service on station extended to approximately 13 years before the program was officially divested by the National Defense Authorization Act earlier this year.

“The purpose of our program was to operate out of ADAB in order to provide lessons learned from Maritime Demonstration to be used in future U.S. Navy maritime operations with the Triton unmanned aerial vehicles,” said U.S. Navy Lt. Cmdr. Kevin Laughary, the officer in charge of the BAMS-D forward operating location. “The mission effectiveness and reliability led to the extension of the mission as requested by higher authority.”

In a detachment made up of three uniformed personnel and 37 contractors, The BAMS-D mission at ADAB operated using three Global Hawks.

“Normal operations were to have two operate out of ADAB while the third was located in Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Md.,” said Laughary. “We rotated the three aircraft between the two sites to ensure all major maintenance and updates were performed in Pax River [Patuxent River].”

NAS Pax is where all three BAMS-D Global Hawks now reside.