The RQ-4 Global Hawk drone was designed to obtain high resolution images almost in real time, in all types of weather, day and night.
Iran shot down a military plane on Thursday from the US, which it said was on a spy mission on its territory. Washington said the plane was attacked in international airspace without provocation.
The Global Hawk, manufactured by Northrop Grumman Corp, is used to collect information about the sea and coastal areas, and costs around $130 million, according to industry experts.
There is some data from the Global Hawk, which is one of the most sophisticated unmanned aircraft in the United States, according to an Air Force statement on its capabilities.
The RQ-4 Global Hawk is designed to fly at high altitudes of up to 18,000 meters, according to the Northrop Grumman website. Commercial passenger planes usually fly at altitudes of between 9,000 and 11,000 meters.
The unmanned aircraft can fly up to 32 hours and has a range of up to 12,300 nautical miles or 22,780 kilometers.
With a length of 13 meters, a wingspan of 35 meters and a gross weight of 12 tons, the Global Hawk is comparable in size to the U2 reconnaissance aircraft of Lockheed Martin Corp or a small executive jet.
At the beginning of the last decade, both the United States Navy and the Air Force started buying Global Hawks. According to a 2013 Northrop Grumman press release, the company has delivered a total of 37 Global Hawks to the Air Force.
The Navy in recent years has been buying MQ-4C Triton unmanned aircraft, which have a wingspan of 40 meters, a little more than the Global Hawk. In March, it requested two MQ-4 Tritons and budgeted 473 million dollars for the ships and associated equipment.
The RQ-4 Global Hawk made its first flight on February 28, 1998 and since then has accumulated more than 250,000 flight hours, including military operations in Iraq, Afghanistan, North Africa and the Asia-Pacific region, according to the website of the company.