The Global Hawk is one of the United States’ key resources in overseas intelligence-gathering activities.
Coming in at a price tag north of $200 million apiece, each 40-meter aircraft can fly up to 23,000 kilometers at a height of over 20,000 meters before landing.
Covering more than 100,000 square kilometres of land per day, they record 32 hours of intelligence data using not only specialized ultra-high-resolution cameras, but also equipment that can monitor telephone calls and online activity on the ground
And from 2017, it will be flying high above the Czech Republic, reports Novinky.cz.
An agreement between NATO member states allowing the flyover traffic of the US spy drones has been approved by the Czech Ministry of Defense, and will take effect from January 1, 2017.
There’s just one catch: the Global Hawk’s weapons and surveillance systems must be deactivated when flying above NATO airspace.
“It is believed that the Global Hawk will be flying high above the Czech Republic, carrying out tasks supporting NATO,” Defense Ministry spokesperson Jan Pejšek told Pravo.
Given the Czech Republic’s strategic location in Europe, the Ministry confirmed that the country could see the largest amount of US drone activity in the region. But each flyover must meet specific requirements, and must be announced in advance of flight.
Because of the 20,000-meter altitude at which the drones fly, there is little risk of contact with commercial aircraft, which typically reach a height of 8,000 meters.