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.
The stealthy, jet-powered version of the Predator series UAV that was unveiled last month was developed “with significant company investment,” according to General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc. (GA-ASI). Tom Cassidy, president of GA-ASI’s aircraft systems group, again sought to contrast the company’s lean and independent development model with that of the major aerospace companies.
The Pentagon is increasing production of the General Atomics Predator and Reaper armed UAVs and withdrawing 250 strike aircraft. The long-awaited statement on the U.S. Fiscal Year 2010 budget by Secretary of Defense Robert Gates confirmed an end to F-22 production at 187 aircraft, offset by a slight advance in the pace of the F-35 program.
Although Spectrum Aeronautical has decided to skip this year’s NBAA Convention, the all-composite S-40 Freedom midsize twinjet will still fly next year, according to company president Austin Blue.
The $6.2 million (2006 $) S-40 will be powered by a pair of GE Honda HF120 turbofans. The engine is expected to be certified next year as well. “We’re keeping track of the GE Honda engine development rather closely,” said Blue.
General Atomics Aeronautical Systems (GA-ASI) won an
Raytheon is displaying here at Farnborough its universal control station (UCS) for UAVs. It is the first time the station is showing at an international venue.
The company claims that the UCS could dramatically reduce the accident rates of unmanned systems, as well as the cost to train operators. In particular, Raytheon wants to replace the ground stations provided by General Atomics for the control of the Predator and Reaper UAVs.
Two General Atomics Sky Warrior UAVs have been operating in Iraq since late April, well ahead of the drone’s formal system design and development (SDD) schedule. The Sky Warrior, a new version of the Predator-A, won the U.S. Army’s extended-range/multipurpose (ER/MP) competition. The substantial changes include a Thielert heavy-fuel engine, an autoland system and an improved, more mobile ground station.
Raytheon has sold a Predator Operations Center to the U.S. Air National Guard, which will use it to direct Predator UAV missions. The company is also marketing its Universal Control System (UCS) for the control of UAVs such as the Predator.
UCS is designed to be more user-friendly than the original ground stations supplied by General Atomics, and Raytheon hopes to make a sale soon.