RQ-4 Global Hawk: How Iran's Revolutionary Guard shot down America's most 'sophisticated unmanned' drone

The Global Hawk drone, made by Northrop Grumman Corp, costs around $130 million with a length of 44 feet, a wingspan of 116 feet and a gross weight of 12 tonnes. It is comparable in size to Lockheed Martin Corp's U-2 reconnaissance aircraft or a small business jet.

Iran shoot down US military Global Hawk drone

Iran on Thursday shot down a US military drone it said was on a spy mission over its territory.

Washington said the aircraft was targeted in international air space in "an unprovoked attack."

(Photograph:Reuters)

RQ-4 Global Hawk designed to gather high-resolution images

The downing of the drone was the latest in an escalating series of incidents in the Gulf region, fanning fears of wider military conflict in the Middle East as US President Donald Trump pursues a campaign of isolating Iran over its nuclear and ballistic missile programs and role in regional wars.

The RQ-4 Global Hawk is designed to gather near real-time, high-resolution images in all types of weather and during day and night.

(Photograph:AFP)

US military's most sophisticated unmanned aircraft

The Global Hawk, which is considered to be one of the US military's most sophisticated unmanned aircraft, according to an Air Force statement of the aircraft's capabilities.

The drone is made by Northrop Grumman Corp, is used for intelligence-gathering over water and coastal areas, and costs around $130 million, according to industry experts.

(Photograph:AFP)

Designed to fly at altitudes of up to 60,000 feet

The RQ-4 Global Hawk is designed to fly at high altitudes of up to 60,000 feet (18 km), according to Northrop Grumman's website.

Commercial passenger aircraft typically fly at altitudes of between 31,000 and 38,000 feet or 9 to 11 km.

(Photograph:Reuters)

US Air Force's fleet of 37 Global Hawks

In the early 2000s, both the US Navy and US Air Force began buying Global Hawks.

The Navy in a 2004 statement had said the Air Force bought four Global Hawk aircraft at roughly $360 million.

According to a 2013 news release by Northrop Grumman, the company has since delivered a total of 37 Global Hawks to the Air Force.

(Photograph:Zee News Network)

Comparable in size to a small business jet

The drone can fly for up to 32 hours and has a range of up to 12,300 nautical miles, or 22,780 km.

With a length of 44 feet (13 meters), a wingspan of 116 feet (35 meters), and a gross weight of 25,600 pounds (12 tonnes), the Global Hawk is comparable in size to Lockheed Martin Corp's U-2 reconnaissance aircraft or a small business jet.

(Photograph:Reuters)

US Navy buying bigger MQ-4C Triton drones

The Navy in recent years has been buying MQ-4C Triton drones, which have a 130-foot (40-meter) wingspan, slightly larger than the Global Hawk.

The Navy in March requested two MQ-4 Tritons and budgeted $473 million for those aircraft and associated equipment.

(Photograph:Zee News Network)

The RQ-4 Global Hawk flying since February 28, 1998

The RQ-4 Global Hawk made its first flight on February 28, 1998, and has since amassed more than 250,000 flight hours, including in military operations in Iraq, Afghanistan, North Africa and the greater Asia-Pacific region, according to the company website.

(Photograph:DNA)