The world order has changed and with it, governments are now faced with waging a new type of `ware.' Regional instability, drug trafficking, environmental issues, international terrorism, and illegal immigration are examples of escalating problems that cross international boundaries and threaten the security of nations. The first and most important element in coping with these illegal activities is the ability to detect and monitor events in a timely and secure fashion. Conventional means of gathering intelligence such as large airborne collection systems and satellites lack the flexibility, dwell times, and cost effectiveness to meet many of today's needs. There is a growing requirement for airborne platforms that can covertly perform surveillance missions during either day or night and in a cost effective manner. To meet this need, Schweizer Aircraft has recently developed the RU-38A twin-engine surveillance aircraft. This paper discusses the evolution and principle design concepts of this aircraft and how its unique performance enables the RU-38A to achieve new levels of surveillance capability.