Northrop Grumman's Global Hawk unmanned aircraft system (UAS) has achieved 200,000 flight hours in support of intelligence gathering for military operations.
Nearly 88% of the flight hours were recorded by Global Hawks that are in service with the US Air Force (USAF) and the remainder was achieved by NASA Global Hawks, Germany's Full Scale Demonstrator and the US Navy's broad area maritime surveillance aircraft systems.
With an ability to fly at altitudes of up to 60,000ft for more than 30 hours, Global Hawks survey thousands of square miles on a single mission.
The UAS fitted with a wide range of sensor payloads can be used to gather near real-time imagery and can detect moving or stationary targets on the ground using radar.
It also provides airborne communications and information sharing capabilities to military units in harsh environments.
Northrop Grumman Global Hawk programme manager and vice-president Mick Jaggers said: "Global Hawk has set endurance records and displayed an unmatched record of safety while reducing per hour flight costs to half the cost of the manned alternative.
"This milestone is especially meaningful as it comes just before the 15th anniversary of Global Hawk's first deployment into the theatre of operations following the tragic events of 9/11.
"We expect Global Hawk to continue to provide indispensable ISR information to our warfighters."
Since its foray into combat operations after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Global Hawk conducted several operational and humanitarian missions around the world supporting Southern California wildfires, the Japanese tsunami, the Haitian earthquake and the Philippines' typhoon.
The Global Hawk recently flew SYERS-2, an Air Force intelligence gathering sensor, for the first time.
Northrop Grumman intends to fly an Optical Bar Camera and an MS-177 multispectral sensor later this year through Global Hawk's open systems architecture.
Image: Northrop Grumman's Global Hawk aircraft. Photo: courtesy of Northrop Grumman Corp.