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With wingspans longer than a Boeing 757, the US Air Force RQ-4B Global Hawk is the undisputed spy plane king

RQ-4 Global Hawk
June 30, 2017

The U.S. Air Force Northrop Grumman RQ-4B Global Hawk has a wingspan of 130.9 feet, which is longer than the wingspan of a Boeing 757, which comes in with a wingspan of 124.6 feet.

The RQ-4B is an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) surveillance aircraft – in other words, a spy plane – and is arguably the largest military UAV flying regular missions as of today.

It is powered by a single Rolls-Royce F137-RR-100 turbofan engine with a cruising speed of 357 miles per hour, with a maximum range of 14,154 miles and maximum altitude of 60,000 feet.

With an uncanny resemblance to the U-2 Dragon Lady, the RQ-4B Global Hawk is the undisputed spy plane king.

Largest Spy Drone

The Global Hawk UAV system comprises the RQ-4 air vehicle, which is outfitted with various equipment such as sensor packages and communication systems; and a ground element consisting of a Launch and Recovery Element (LRE), and a Mission Control Element (MCE) with ground communications equipment.

The Global Hawk performs a similar role as the Lockheed U-2 and by using high-resolution Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR), long-range electro-optical/infrared (EO/IR) sensors, as well as long loiter times over target areas, it can survey as much as 40,000 square miles of terrain a day.

If the MQ-9 Reaper is the king of deadly drones, then the RQ-4 Global Hawk is the king of spy planes.

Global Hawk