RQ-4 Global Hawk

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The Northrop Grumman (formerly Ryan Aeronautical) RQ-4 Global Hawk (known as Tier II+ during development) is an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) used by the United States Air Force and Navy as a surveillance aircraft.

In role and operational design, the Global Hawk is similar to the Lockheed U-2, the venerable 1950s spy plane. It is a theater commander's asset to provide a broad overview and systematic target surveillance. For this purpose, the Global Hawk is able to provide high resolution Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR)—that can penetrate cloud-cover and sandstorms— and Electro-Optical/Infrared (EO/IR) imagery at long range with long loiter times over target areas. It can survey as much as 40,000 square miles (100,000 square kilometers) of terrain a day.

Missions for the Global Hawk cover the spectrum of intelligence collection capability to support forces in worldwide peace, crisis, and wartime operations. According to the Air Force, the capabilities of the aircraft allow more precise targeting of weapons and better protection of forces through superior surveillance capabilities.

The Global Hawk costs about $35 million USD[1] (actual per-aircraft costs; with development costs also included, the per-aircraft cost rises to $123.2 million USD each[2]).

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