An RQ-4 Global Hawk, a reconnaissance drone, will be used to help survey damage to towns and industrial facilities in Japan.
Our understanding is that in Japan, the culture against interfering in someone else's cleanup effort is a lot stricter than it is elsewhere. A government taking over a corporation's cleanup effort is a greater evil than in other countries & this is the main reason foreign aircraft have not been allowed to overfly the nuclear power plant or inject water into it, which they could have done long ago.
Exactly whether it's still strictly Tokyo Electric Company's cleanup effort or if the Japanese government has finally taken over is not being reported, but we gather Japan has still not seen fit to intervene in the company's efforts.
By now, we've figured out, the hard way, Japan has very little unmanned aircraft capability & was completely unprepared for a nuclear disaster. For all of Japan's investment in robotics, it has been purely for social programs, geminoids, the uncanny valley, entertainment, healthcare, farming. There was never the investment in heavy lift that there was in other countries.
The Yamaha RMAX was Japan's largest UAV investment, but it probably didn't have enough range to do the job. Foreign operators were the only ones testing the RMAX with firefighting, which would have meant Japan's government taking over cleanup operations again. There were stories about how Kaman Aerospace could have ended the nuclear disaster, but once again requiring foreign involvement.
Where foreign countries could have doused the plant with unmanned water drops days ago & sent unmanned rovers into the plant, Japan has had to wait for the radiation to die down to fly humans over it & only then would permit a few seconds of shaky camera footage from a company employee in a manned vehicle.
Unfortunately, TEPCO has blocked re-uploading the footage. It was almost laughable to see such a magnitude of disaster being met with such meager resources. In an age where unmanned overflights of war zones, FLIR imagery, XRay imagery, & ground rovers are no brainers everywhere else in the world, a few seconds of shaky handheld footage 6 days after the disaster was a disaster in itself.In this age of ubiquitous unmanned aircraft & technology to solve nuclear disasters, it was once again not the technology but the laws of human nature that brought us down. There will be more resistance to nuclear power because of the human factor & not the technology.
The Global Hawk has been there for a while now, as well as a couple of manned U2's. I think the Hawk or one of the craft have radiation monitoring and sampling pods. We will not see the pictures because they are "classified". We don't want any one to know our exact capabilities.
What I think the could use is a good quad providing close up images of the reactor building wrecage and the fuel pools under this twisted steel. They may give out due to super intense gamma fields and crash, but so what. They would have video intel to make critical decisions, such as what is the fuel pool level.
There has already been a call out to gov agenceys for rov experts. I think disposable and harmless quads would bee of great help in this situation. But I am not in charge. Like Jack said.
Apparently it did a low altitude sampling run.
It is interesting that locally ruling peasant from the desert attracted more aerial technology than a disaster near world's most populated city. Total mismanagement on top levels among G8 countries.
In Allah our hope.
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