A Northrop Grumman Global Hawk unmanned aircraft takes off. Photo courtesy Northrop Grumman

Air Force and Navy unmanned aircraft built by the  Northrop Grumman San Diego division have surpassed 100,000 hours of service in combat and operational support, the company announced Wednesday.

The Global Hawk aircraft are part of Northrop Grumman’s high altitude long endurance, or HALE series. The 100,000 total hours milestone was exceeded in September 2013.

“Global Hawk has continuously and successfully supported overseas contingency operations since its first deployment to Afghanistan after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks,” said Jim Culmo, vice president of Northrop Grumman’s HALE Enterprise.

“Operating 11 miles above danger zones, Global Hawk is a strategic airborne asset with unprecedented endurance, range and persistence providing decision makers near real-time information from around the world.”

The aircraft have been used on missions over Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Nigeria. Global Hawks allow military commanders to gather near real-time imagery and use radar to detect moving or stationary targets on the ground. The aircraft also provide airborne communications capabilities to military units in harsh environments.

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