The Police Service of Northern Ireland is to buy two drones, for the huge security operation for the G8 summit in County Fermanagh in June.
Flown by operators on the ground, the aircraft can relay live pictures from high quality cameras.
The PSNI owns two helicopters and leases another, and has announced plans to buy a fourth for an estimated £7m.
It is understood the unmanned drone aircraft will cost around £1m.
The PSNI has told the policing board it wants to buy the drones for use during the G8 summit and afterwards to combat terrorism and crime.
The use of drones is considered novel and contentious so the policing board has to be briefed in advance about any planned purchase or deployment.
That briefing will take place next week.