This is America’s Biggest UAV – Meet the RQ-4 GLOBAL HAWK
The RQ-4 Global Hawk is a high-altitude, long-endurance, remotely piloted aircraft with an integrated sensor suite that provides global all-weather, day or night intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) capability.
Northrop Grumman’s GLOBAL HAWK is one of, if not the world’s premier surveillance and reconnaissance unmanned aircraft system—and the Air Force’s go-to eye in the sky.
The Global Hawk was designed by Ryan Aeronautical and the first five or so were built in their plant in San Diego. I know this because I watched them being put together right next to my workstation where I was building tail assemblies for the AH-64 Apache helicopter. Northrop Grumman acquired the Global Hawk when they purchased Ryan in the early 2000s.
In the RQ-4 name, the “R” is the Department of Defense designation for Reconnaissance and “Q” means unmanned aircraft system. The “4” refers to the series of purpose-built remotely piloted aircraft systems.