An RQ-4 Global Hawk broke the world record for unrefueled flight endurance by a full-scale uncrewed aircraft in a test at Edwards Air Force Base last week, staying aloft for 33.1 hours at altitudes approaching 60,000 feet. The Northrop-Grumman built plane costs $28 million each - there are currently three of them in action both in the U.S. and in the Middle East. The previous record was held by an earlier variant of the Global Hawk.
The Global Hawk fills a role similar to the Cold War classic U2 spy plane, providing surveillance, intelligence and reconnaissance at a flight ceiling of 65,000 feet. It doesn't put pilots at risk the way the U2 did, though. It's controlled by ground crews that hang out in two separate bunkers far from the action. At more than 40 feet long, with a 116-foot wingspan, the Global Hawk is one impressive bird. Don't think Sarah Connor hasn't noticed. Photo credit: U.S. Air Force.