GA-ASI dominates the medium-altitude, long-endurance (MALE) market segment for unmanned aircraft with its Predator series of UAS. GA-ASI continues to develop unmatched UAS technology to meet the needs of the warfighter overseas, as well as national security needs with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS)/Customs and Border Protection (CBP) here at home.
"Predator series aircraft have achieved a number of records, including being the first UAS to fire a Hellfire missile during combat and the first to be controlled from a submerged submarine," says Frost & Sullivan research analyst Lindsay Voss. "The USAF flies more Predators than any other unmanned aircraft and plans to acquire more over the next few years."
The MQ-1 Predator performs intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) missions and offers strike capability, too. To date, GA-ASI had delivered over 160 MQ-1 Predators to the U.S. and Italian Air Forces, and the aircraft have flown more than 275,000 hours.
The MQ-9 variant, also known as Predator B by GA-ASI and "Reaper" by the Air Force, has an unmatched "hunter-killer" capability. Equipped with a laser designator, this beefier Predator can deliver with precision up to 3,000 pounds of external munitions, including Hellfire missiles and GBU 12/GBU 38 bombs. The MQ-9 variant of the Predator has flown over 12,000 hours.
In 2005 the U.S. Army announced that a version of the Predator would satisfy the Service’s requirement for an extended range/multiple-purpose (ER/MP) unmanned aircraft. A derivative of Predator called the Sky Warrior Armed Reconnaissance System will be deployed by the Army as early as 2009. Equipped with a certified diesel engine and able to carry four Hellfire missiles, the ER/MP Sky Warrior Program is expected to grow to over 350 airplanes and to replace the Army’s aging Hunter UAS.
DHS/CBP operates a Predator B aircraft to perform border surveillance. Predator B operations with CBP are expanding from the nation’s southern border, to the northern border and into the Caribbean. This system can greatly enhance border security as it offers an improved and cost-effective solution to the challenge of protecting our extensive ground and maritime borders.
"In the near future, Predator systems, or variants of the system, could be in use with three of the four military services," notes Voss. "The Predator system’s multiple-role capabilities are also changing the UAS industry, demonstrating that UAS can offer more than ISR in the battlefield."
GA-ASI will continue to drive industry innovation in the future. With the Air Force requesting additional Predators each year, the Army developing its ER/MP UAS Program, DHS ordering more systems, and the Navy interested in the Mariner as its BAMS maritime solution, GA-ASI will remain a key participant in the industry.
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About General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc.
General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc., (ga-asi.com) an affiliate of General Atomics, provides comprehensive solutions for military and commercial applications worldwide. The company’s Aircraft Systems Group is a leading designer and manufacturer of proven, reliable unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), including Predator®, Predator B, and the Sky Warrior™ Armed Reconnaissance System, and provides pilot training and support services for UAS field operations. The Aircraft Systems Group has been awarded the SDD phase of the U.S. Army’s ER/MP UAS Program and is currently developing the next-generation Army Sky Warrior Armed Reconnaissance System, featuring a heavy-fuel engine, triple-redundant avionics and increased armament capability. The Reconnaissance Systems Group designs, manufactures, and integrates the Lynx® SAR/GMTI sensor system for both manned and unmanned aircraft and is also pursuing the integration of the Magnum (Raptor View) high-resolution EO/IR sensor onto a UAS platform. Leading the industry to new levels of performance, reliability, and operational capability since its establishment in 1993, the company has expanded the acceptance and application of UAS within the United States and among allied forces around the globe. GA-ASI is committed to providing immediately deployable, transformational technology for military operations, weapons systems and civil missions.
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