Predators and Reapers are is able to keep an unblinking eye on large chunks of the Pakistani tribal areas, and do it 24/7. This is believed to be a crucial element in the campaign against Taliban and al Qaeda leaders along the Pakistani border. During the last year, over a hundred of these terrorists have been killed, many of them senior people. The Taliban tend to think that they were given up by local informers, not some high flying (20,000 feet up, and thus hard to spot from the ground, especially at night) robotic aircraft.
RQ4 Global Hawks have also flown missions over Pakistan, usually from Persian Gulf bases. Some of the more recent models have been able to fly 20 hour missions, land for refueling and maintenance, and be off in four hours for another twenty hours in the sky. The first three RQ-4Bs entered service in 2006. At 13 tons, the Global Hawk is the size of a commuter airliner (like the Embraer ERJ 145), but costs nearly twice as much. Global Hawk can be equipped with much more powerful, and expensive, sensors, than other UAVs. These more the double the cost of the aircraft. These spy satellite quality sensors (especially AESA radar) are usually worth the expense, because they enable the UAV, flying at over 60,000 feet, to get a sharp picture of all the territory it can see from that altitude.
February 19, 2009: Google Earth, until recently, showed three U.S. Predator UAVs parked at a Pakistani air base. This find quickly spread around the Internet, and when it became known at the Pentagon, a call was made to Google, and that image disappeared from Google Earth. Google earth will remove images, especially those involving military matters, if a government requests it. More recent images of the Pakistani air base shows a large new hanger has been built, one that could easily hold several Predators. Google Earth images are often several years old.
It has been common knowledge in Pakistan that the U.S. was using two airbases for UAV (mainly Predator and Reaper) operations. One is in Baluchistan (the southwest) some 50 kilometers from the Afghan border. The other is 500 kilometers northeast of Karachi. Both bases were also used by American helicopters and transport aircraft.