The huge Northrop Grumman UAS (Unmanned Aerial System) was deployed to Japan to support ISR (Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance) missions in the Pacific theater. Its operations are carried out by a team of 40 personnel belonging to the 69th Reconnaissance Group, Detachment 1.
The UAS is a temporary replacement for the ISR missions launched from Guam. Those missions are particularly affected by inclement summer weather, and sorties are often cancelled due to typhoons and thunderstorms. Misawa Air Base was selected as an alternate base because of seasonal weather patterns, locally available facilities, and cost.
Even though the primary mission of the Global Hawk will be ISR ("spying"), their presence could be useful to support humanitarian operations in the region. Their humanitarian use was proven during Operation Tomodachi, a relief effort launched in 2011 when a 9.0-magnitude earthquake and an accompanying tsunami struck northeastern Japan.