The United States Air Force as well as the US Navy have been using a drone known as the global hawk since 1998, which is long before anyone had ever heard of drones being used in this way. Even though it isn’t the assault weapon that many people are familiar with, this surveillance drone is an incredible feat of engineering, costing $131 million each.
The Global Hawk first flew in February of 1998, with an order of 7 drones sponsored by DARPA. It came into prominence during the war in Afghanistan, though, where it was used to spy on places that are traditionally hard to reach for westerners.
It isn’t only the military that uses them, though, and NASA now has two Global Hawk drones that they are using for long term, long range studies of the Earth in an effort to find out new things about the planet that we inhabit.
Compared to the attack drones commonly used, this is a massive craft. A 130 ft wingspan and a Rolls-Royce turbofan engine make this a powerful machine that is capable of cruising at 350mph at 6,700 feet. It might not be the fastest, but it is one of the most useful. Cost overruns have threatened the production more than once, but with the recent adoption by other countries as well there is no reason to think that it is going anywhere anytime soon.