The stealthy, jet-powered Predator-C UAV may be heading for Afghanistan, where it will be operated by “a classified customer,” presumably the CIA. The U.S. Air Force published a procurement notice stating its intention to award a sole-source contract to General Atomics Aeronautical Systems (GA-ASI) for a single aircraft to serve as “a test platform” in a “multi-agency role” as part of Operation Enduring Freedom.
War on Terrorism
The U.S. Air National Guard is conducting training flights with the MQ-9 Reaper unmanned aircraft system (UAS) in restricted airspace around Fort Drum in western New York State, where an Air Guard wing has established the first such Reaper flight school.
The targeting by American Predator and Reaper UAVs of terrorists along the Afghan-Pakistan border is being aided by GPS tracking devices placed covertly in the suspects’ vehicles, according to media reports.
A new version of the General Atomics Predator/Reaper UAV series with multiple sensor control is ready for deployment to Afghanistan after successful trials. A U.S. Army MQ-1C Gray Eagle was fitted with two additional EO/IR sensors under each wing.
Four American companies will demonstrate concepts for an unmanned carrier-launched airborne surveillance and strike (UCLASS) aircraft to the U.S. Navy.
The U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency is displaying the Guardian, a maritime variant of the MQ-9 Predator B unmanned aircraft system (UAS) at the Paris Air Show.
Northrop Grumman unveiled a new optionally piloted vehicle in the medium-altitude, long-endurance (Male) class, which is currently dominated by General Atomics Aeronautical Systems with its Predator/Reaper series. The Firebird will fly in piloted and multisensor configuration later this month at Empire Challenge 2011, a military intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance (ISR) exercise hosted by the U.S.
In a significant move, the U.S. government has cleared an unarmed version of the Predator UAV for wider export, including to the Middle East. Until now, the Predator and Reaper series has been exported only to the UK and Italy, and offered to a few other U.S. allies. Long-endurance UAVs are included in the Missile Technology Control Regime (MCTR), a voluntary 34-nation agreement.
General Atomics Aeronautical Systems (GA-ASI) recently completed flight tests of its new Lynx advanced multi-channel radar (AMR) on its own Predator B unmanned aircraft system (UAS). The AMR combines the functions of a synthetic aperture radar and a ground moving target indicator.
General Atomics Aeronautical Systems (GA-ASI) chose the Navy League convention to introduce a carrier-capable version of its Predator C UAV. GA-ASI has proposed the Sea Avenger for the emerging U.S. Navy Unmanned Carrier-Launched Airborne Surveillance and Strike System (UClass). It is based on the jet-powered, stealthy development of the Predator series that GA-ASI has funded through design, development and into flight test.