The longest non-stop unmanned flight distance record is held by Global Hawk, which flew 13,219.86 km (8,214.44 miles) during its trip from Edwards Air Force Base in the US to RAAF Base Edinburgh in Australia.
Guinness World Records has recognised the non-stop flight from Edwards Air Force Base in California to the Royal Australian Air Force Base at Edinburgh near Adelaide as a new world record for the longest flight ever undertaken by a full scale unmanned aircraft.
The Defence White Paper released in December last year committed Defence to greater surveillance capabilities to make Australia's coastlines and waters more secure from illegal incursions.
In line with the White Paper, Global Hawk is included in the Defence Capability Plan and up to $150 million allocated for the acquisition. The first aircraft is scheduled for delivery in 2007. The total number of aircraft to be purchased has not been determined.
The record breaking flight by Global Hawk was the first non-stop crossing of the Pacific Ocean and the longest point-to-point journey ever undertaken by an unmanned aircraft, a total distance of 13,219.86 km.
Global Hawk, departed Edwards Air Force Base at 4.48 am California time (9.18 pm Adelaide time) on 22 April 2001 and arrived at RAAF Base Edinburgh 23 hours and 23 minutes later at 8.41 pm (Adelaide time) on 23 April 2001 after crossing the International Date Line.
The Global Hawk was monitored and controlled during the entire flight by mission controllers with the United States Air Force, the Royal Australian Air Force and Defence Science and Technology Organisation on the ground at RAAF Base Edinburgh.
The aircraft was renamed "Southern Cross II" in honor of the first manned trans-Pacific flight by Sir Charles Kingsford-Smith, Charles Ulm and their American crew members, James Warner and Harry Lyon in 1928.
Global Hawk is the world's most advanced high altitude long endurance unmanned aerial vehicle. Its deployment to Australia earlier this year enabled US and Australian authorities to evaluate Global Hawk as an airborne surveillance system. While in Australia it undertook missions off the Australian coastline and participated in the joint US-Australian Exercise Tandem Thrust.(www.dsto.defence.gov)