Airborne Intelligence, Surveillance & Reconnaissance (ISR): The U-2 Aircraft and Global Hawk UAV Programs [Updated December 1, 2000] [open pdf - 148KB]
Global Hawk, a soon to be fielded unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), has been considered a complement to, and potentially a replacement for the U-2. While the unproven Global Hawk appears to offer some advantages over the U-2 -- such as greater range and endurance, and not exposing a pilot to danger -- as currently designed it does not currently match the U-2's intelligence gathering capabilities. The U-2 stands out for its proven track record of providing vital near-real-time intelligence to military theater commanders in the 1991 war with Iraq (Operation Desert Storm), the 1999 conflict in Kosovo (Operation Allied Force), and other conflict areas.
CRS Report for Congress, RL30727