U-2 pilots travel to the edge of space carrying sophisticated surveillance gear - electro-optical infrared camera, optical bar camera, advanced synthetic aperture radar, signals intelligence, and network-centric communication nodes - to monitor events on the ground. To do so, they must wear a $200,000 pressurized suit, and eat puréed food.
The RQ-4 Global Hawk performs a similar role as the U-2, but is piloted remotely from Beale AFB, CA. Like the Predator and Reaper, the aircraft must be launched and recovered locally. The Global Hawk can carry a wide variety of surveillance pods, as well as the Battlefield Airborne Communications Node, which serves as an encrypted bridge between units operating on the ground and in the air.
The EC-130H Compass Call is an airborne communications jamming platform operated by the Air Combat Command's (ACC) 55th Electronic Combat Group (55 ECG) at Davis-Monthan AFB, Arizona. The EC-130 Compass Call aircraft attempts to disrupt enemy command and control communications and limits adversary coordination essential for enemy force management. The Compass Call system employs offensive counterinformation and electronic attack capabilities in support of U.S. and Coalition tactical air, surface, and special operations forces.