General Atomics MQ-1 Predator Rules the Sky

General Atomics MQ-1 Predator was developed by General Atomics, and it is basically an unmanned aerial vehicle that is preferably used by the Central Intelligence Agency and United States Air Force.

In the year 1990, it was basically expected to perform forward observation and reconnaissance roles. This unit was loaded with a camera and many powerful sensors. However, later it was modified to carry AGM-114 Hellfire missiles as well as few other munitions. This aircraft is being used by the US army from 1995 and it has worked over Somalia, Libya, Yemen, Iraq, Serbia, Bosnia, Pakistan and Afghanistan.

USAF describes MQ-1 Predator as a Tier-II medium-altitude, long-endurance UAS, and it is loaded with four air vehicles along with powerful sensors. Other than this, the system has a primary satellite link communicate suite and ground control station. It works with a Rotax engine and the system is driven by a propeller. This air vehicle is capable enough to fly as high as up to 400 nautical miles towards the target. The overhead time is 14 hours and then it can return to the base station.

In the year 2001, MQ-1 Predator was declared as primary unmanned aircraft and it was assigned to carry out some offensive operations by CIA and USAF in tribal areas of Pakistan and Afghanistan as well. As this Predator is classified for offensive applications, U.S. military teams appreciated its reconnaissance gathering abilities and higher intelligence level. However, they have not disclosed any other ability of this advanced Predator system to the media.

If we look at the Civilian applications, this predator can be used for scientific studies and border enforcement. It can also monitor wind direction as well as a few essential characteristics of forest fires.

Specs:

27 ft length

48 ft wingspan

7 ft height

1130 lbs

115 hp engine

135 mph max speed

777 mile range

25k max elevation

2 hardpoints

2 hell fire missles

4 stingers

6 air to surface

Development of General Atomics MQ-1 Predator:

Stats reveal that Pentagon and Central Intelligence Agency started experimenting with reconnaissance drones years ago in the 1980s. At that time, the CIA worked on many lightweights, unobtrusive and small-sized drones. Later in the 1990s, the agency became interested in executing ‘Amber’- a powerful drone developed by the Leading Systems Inc. Abraham Karem, the owner of the company, was basically a former chief designer in the Air Force at Israel. He was later migrated to the US in the 1970s. The company once went bankrupt and at that time, it was purchased by U.S. defense contractor. At that time, the CIA secretly invested in five drones that were later named as GNAT. After this deal, Karem agreed to design a quiet engine for this air vehicle that could sound more like a lawnmower in the air. This new design was named as Predator.

General Atomics Aeronautical Systems got a major contract for the development of Predator in the year 1994. The initial phase of the advanced concept technology demonstration took a long time from 1994 to 1996. This aircraft was believed to be a derivative of GA Gnat 750. At the initial stage, the system was named as RQ-1 Predator; however, the name was officially changed to MQ-1 Predator in 2002.

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