With $10 billion in development costs, the Global Hawk UAV has been an expensive proposition for the US Air Force over the course of its 15-year life. The huge UAV – its wingspan is nearly 30-feet wider than a U-2 spy plane and it's only two feet shorter than an F-16 – has become a critical vehicle for the US military, although as Foxtrot Alpha explains, that significance isn't necessarily due to its reconnaissance abilities.

FA's Tyler Rogoway got up close with the RQ-4, as it's officially known, and pointed out that despite its shortcomings relative to the U-2, the Global Hawk's importance is the "entirely new concept of operations" that it represents.

If you're at all interested in the art of military reconnaissance and where the field is heading in the future, do be sure to head over and check out Foxtrot Alpha's story.

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