Global Hawk is one of those drones so monumental and confounding that it becomes a perfect target for our cynical tendency to search for negatives, to decry the high cost and delight in mechanical flaws—as if any war machine could be perfect.
The venerable U-2 'Dragon Lady' is a spy plane born from Cold War necessity that soldiered on operationally for decades past anyone's wildest dreams. She went from sleek design to a bulging beast of burden whose silhouette can change as fast as her mission requires it to. Here's a guide to her many configurations.
We often think of drones as distant hovering sparrows in the sky, buzzing and cooing, firing off the occasional Hellfire missile. But they're enormous flying machines with massive wingspans. And when they crash, they sure leave a giant flaming mark.
The Lockheed U-2 was designed to keep tabs on the Soviet Union over half a century ago. The RQ-4 Global Hawk drone was designed to replace this 50s antique. But how strange you are, fate! The U-2's replacing its successor.
I keep forgetting about how damn huge some drones are. Most people think they are tiny, like toy planes. As this photo of a Northrop Grumman RQ-4 Global Hawk shows, they are actually big. Big as in pretty damn huge.