The General Atomics MQ-1 "Predator" Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) became one of the most important aviation products of the 2000s. Introduced in July of 1995, the series went on to see considerable combat service in the skies over Afghanistan and Iraq during the two major wars there and continues to fly today (2018) with some 360 produced to date. The line was eventually matured into a dedicated attack form in the MQ-9 "Reaper" and has been completely modernized for the rigors of the new battlefield in the "Predator XP".
The Predator XP brings with it a mission endurance window of 35 hours and can reach operating altitudes of 25,000 feet and speeds of 120 knots on a conventional propeller engine. The overall form and function of the Predator line remains as the aircraft continues to showcase the bulbous forward fuselage, housing critical internal systems, straight wing mainplanes (set at midships) and the downward-turned, outward-cranked tail planes. The propeller unit remains at the rear of the design, powered by a conventional engine fit, and is arranged in a pusher configuration. The undercarriage has a three-leg stance and is wheeled for ground-running. Winglets are noted at the tips of each mainplane.
Predator XP has an autonomous functionality allowing it to complete take-off and landing actions without operator input (this system was proven through the Gray Eagle development - detailed elsewhere on this site). By way of its data-link installation, the system can operate through both line-of-sight and beyond-line-of-sight as needed - providing considerable tactical advantages in the latter. The payload supports the usual sensors, High-Definition (HD) cameras and systems related to Intelligence-Surveillance-Reconnaissance (ISR) (including maritime) sorties and carries an EO/IR camera for real time delivery of video. Furthermore, the aircraft is equipped to operate in both day and night environments and all-weather types, able to search, track and report on target positions - even those targets on the move. The air vehicle also has a "Lynx" multi-mode radar fit. A triple-redundant flight control system ensures product reliability.
As it stands, the Predator XP is a relatively new release by General Atomics and is actively marketed by the company as a multi-mission performer.
(OPERATORS list includes past, present, and future operators when applicable)
✓Intelligence-Surveillance-Reconnaissance (ISR), Scout
Surveil ground targets / target areas to assess environmental threat levels, enemy strength, or enemy movement.
Aircraft inherently designed (or later developed) with an unmanned capability to cover a variety of over-battlefield roles.
26.2 ft (8.00 m)
55.8 ft (17.00 m)
2,557 lb (1,160 kg)
(Showcased structural values pertain to the base General Atomics Predator XP production variant)
1 x Rotax 914 (modified) turbo engine driving a three-bladed propeller unit in pusher configuration.
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