New helicopter-style drones with 1.8 gigapixel colour cameras are being developed by the US Army.
The army said the technology promised "an unprecedented capability to track and monitor activity on the ground".
A statement added that three of the sensor-equipped drones were due to go into service in Afghanistan in either May or June.
Boeing built the first drones, but other firms can bid to manufacture others.
"These aircraft will deploy for up to one full year as a way to harness lessons learned and funnel them into a program of record," said Lieutenant Colonel Matthew Munster, product manager at the US Army's Unmanned Aerial System Modernization unit.