November 11, 2005 The Global Hawk UAV was still in its development stages when the needs of the war in Afghanistan saw it pressed into service. Since then, Global Hawk has successfully completed more than 225 missions through three deployments and more than 4,900 combat flight hours. Now the aircraft has been redesigned to carry 50% more payload, so the Air Force can install additional sensors, enhancing its ability to simultaneously collect imagery, signals intelligence and infrared and radar information, and transfer it to the warfighting machine in near-real time. Global Hawk flies autonomously at an altitude of more than 60,000 feet, above inclement weather and prevailing winds, for 35+ hours at a time. During a single mission, it can provide detailed intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance information in near-real time over 40,000 square miles - approximately the size of Illinois.