China has put $3.3 billion into making new highly compact nuclear reactors which would also use for nuclear powered drones.
The potential impact of nuclear-powered drones can be seen by comparing them with existing aircraft such as the MQ-9 Reaper, which is used extensively in Afghanistan and Pakistan in operations against insurgents. The Reaper presently carries nearly two tonnes of fuel in addition a similar weight of munitions and other equipment and can stay airborne for around 42 hours, or just 14 hours when fully loaded with munitions.
Above – An air-to-air view of the Convair NB-36H Peacemaker experimental aircraft (s/n 51-5712) and a Boeing B-50 Superfortress chase plane during research and development taking place at the Convair plant at Forth Worth, Texas (USA). The NB-36H was originally a B-36H-20-CF damaged at Carswell Air Force Base, also at Forth Worth, by a tornado on 1 September 1952. This plane was called the Nuclear Test Aircraft (NTA) and was redesignated XB-36H, then NB-36H, and was modified to carry a three megawatt, air-cooled nuclear reactor in its bomb bay.