On Wednesday the General Atomics MQ-9A Reaper unmanned attack vehicle dropped its first precision-guided bombs in anger, not long after the combat debut of the MQ-9/Hellfire combination.
Earlier this month, the California-based General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA-ASI) passed a significant milestone when it undertook the first flight of a preproduction Sky Warrior unmanned vehicle.
In May L-3 Link Simulation and Training division delivered the first five of seven Predator Mission Aircraft Training Systems (PMATS) to the U.S. Air Force’s main UAV center at Creech AFB, Indian Springs, Nevada. PMATS provides Predator pilots and systems operators with fully immersive, mission-based training and is the first high-fidelity training system for UAVs to be adopted by the USAF.
“We’re getting bigger–but we’re still manageable,” said Tom Cassidy of General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc (GA-ASI). The firm best known for the UAV that rewrote the rules of air warfare–the Predator–now employs more than 1,200 people at nine locations in southern California.
With the air war in Iraq increasingly dominated by close-air support (CAS) operations and the need to engage rapidly emerging targets in heavily populated areas, the use of unmanned aerial vehicles armed with precision weapons has also increased. Before and during Operation Iraqi Freedom, U.S. Air Force Predator UAVs routinely carried weapons, and the practice has now become an everyday part of U.S. military operations.
EDO Corp. (Stand ADT 117) is to provide a weapon carriage and release system for the U.S. Air Force MQ-9 Predator B unmanned aircraft. The initial design and development contract from General Atomics Aeronautical Systems is worth just $1.4 million, but EDO noted that it plans production of “well over” 100 Predator Bs.
A new chapter in civil aviation history opened recently when the FAA issued the first airworthiness certificate for a commercial unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), the General Atomics Altair. But the operating restrictions on the UAV should limit any interference with civil aircraft and ATC.
Honeywell’s business aviation segment recently celebrated the 40th anniversary of the TPE331 turboprop at its Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport facility. Since the first of the line entered service in 1965 on the military OV-10 Bronco, the TPE331, along with the TFE731 turbofan, has been a mainstay of the Garrett/AlliedSignal/ Honeywell engine business.