SP's Aviation - - UCAV -


ground, pro­vid­ing in­fra­struc­ture protection, and search­ing for survivors in the wake of nat­u­ral dis­as­ters has pre­vi­ously been the job of manned in­tel­li­gence, sur­veil­lance, and re­con­nais­sance (ISR) air­craft. Us­ing manned air­craft for ISR mis­sions is a re­source-in­ten­sive ef­fort re­quir­ing mul­ti­ple air­craft with heavy op­er­at­ing costs and vast teams of trained per­son­nel to pilot, op­er­ate sen­sors, and per­form main­te­nance. The re­sult has been an in­com­plete so­lu­tion com­ing at great ex­pense to the coun­tries that have made the re­quired in­vest­ment to ad­dress this crit­i­cal prob­lem. The ISR mis­sion presents two crit­i­cal chal­lenges.

First, per­sis­tent sur­veil­lance over vast stretches of open ter­rain is re­quired for mis­sions that could in­clude spot­ting the covert move­ment of per­son­nel and goods. Manned air­craft do not ad­e­quately pro­vide the re­quired level of per­sis­tence due to their lim­ited en­durance. Sec­ond, there are sig­nif­i­cant lim­i­ta­tions to the num­ber of qual­i­fied per­son­nel avail­able to re­cruit and train for manned ISR pro­grammes to en­sure con­stant watch over these ar­eas.

Gen­eral Atomics Aero­nau­ti­cal Sys­tems Inc’s (GA-ASI) Preda­tor® XP re­motely pi­loted air­craft sys­tem (RPAS) was de­signed specif­i­cally to over­come these chal­lenges. Equipped with GAASI’s state-of-the-art Lynx® multi-mode radar mated to an in­te­grated, high-def­i­ni­tion elec­tro-op­ti­cal/in­frared (EO/IR) cam­era, Preda­tor XP pro­vides all-weather, day/night per­for­mance for a wide-area search ca­pa­bil­ity. Lynx’s Ground Mov­ing Target In­di­ca­tor (GMTI) mode pro­vides a quick and easy method for lo­cat­ing mov­ing ve­hi­cles. The radar’s new Mar­itime Wide Area Search (MWAS) mode, in­clud­ing In­verse Syn­thetic Aper­ture Radar (ISAR) cou­pled with an Au­to­matic Iden­ti­fi­ca­tion Sys­tem (AIS), pro­vides the ca­pa­bil­ity to com­plete a va­ri­ety of mar­itime mis­sions suc­cess­fully, in­clud­ing coastal sur­veil­lance, drug in­ter­dic­tion, long-range sur­veil­lance, small target de­tec­tion, and search and res­cue op­er­a­tions. GA-ASI’s De­tect and Avoid (DAA) Sys­tem, which in­cludes a Traf­fic Col­li­sion Avoid­ance Sys­tem (TCAS II) for co­op­er­a­tive traf­fic and an op­ti­cal sen­sor for non-co­op­er­a­tive traf­fic, al­lows for self-sep­a­ra­tion and col­li­sion avoid­ance with other air traf­fic in in­ter­na­tional and do­mes­tic airspace.

With an en­durance of 35 hours and the abil­ity to as­cend up to 25,000 feet, Preda­tor XP is de­signed with state-of-theart tech­nolo­gies, in­clud­ing an au­to­matic take-off and land­ing ca­pa­bil­ity, re­dun­dant flight con­trol sur­faces, en­hanced avion­ics, and triple-re­dun­dant flight con­trol com­put­ers. The air­craft also is equipped with both line-of-sight (LOS) and be­yond-line-of-sight (BLOS) data link sys­tems for over-the­hori­zon op­er­a­tions in­clud­ing air­craft-to-air­craft or ship data com­mu­ni­ca­tions for man-un­manned team­ing ca­pa­bil­ity. Fly­ing since 2009, GA-ASI’s high-speed, multi-mis­sion Preda­tor C Avenger® is a long-en­durance, medium-to-high al­ti­tude RPAS that can per­form wide-area sur­veil­lance, time-sen­si­tive mis­sions over land or sea, and a host of other chal­leng­ing mil­i­tary mis­sions. The air­craft has much higher op­er­a­tional and tran­sit speeds than cur­rent Preda­tor se­ries air­craft, re­sult­ing in quick re­sponse and rapid repo­si­tion­ing for im­proved mis­sion flex­i­bil­ity and sur­viv­abil­ity.

A highly ad­vanced, next-gen­er­a­tion RPAS, Avenger is a jet­pow­ered by a Prat­tWhit­ney PW545B tur­bo­fan en­gine ca­pa­ble of pro­duc­ing 4,800 pounds in­stalled thrust. The en­gine is de­signed for greater fuel econ­omy and fea­tures class-lead­ing fuel con­sump­tion com­po­nents. Avenger can op­er­ate at speeds up to 400 KTAS, a max­i­mum al­ti­tude of 50,000 feet, and 18 hours en­durance. Its sig­nif­i­cant pay­load ca­pac­ity en­ables it to carry mul­ti­ple sen­sors.

Fea­tur­ing un­par­al­leled re­li­a­bil­ity, Preda­tor XP and Preda­tor C fea­ture triple-re­dun­dant flight con­trol com­put­ers and re­dun­dant flight con­trol sur­faces and avion­ics that de­liver un­par­al­leled re­li­a­bil­ity. These state-of-the-art sys­tems are de­rived from their pre­de­ces­sor, Preda­tor B. Since its first flight in 2001, Preda­tor B’s mis­sion has evolved from mil­i­tary op­er­a­tions to sup­port­ing many hu­man­i­tar­ian as­sis­tance and disas­ter re­cov­ery op­er­a­tions for a va­ri­ety of cus­tomers, which Preda­tor XP and Preda­tor C could like­wise sat­isfy. The DHS op­er­ates the Preda­tor B RPAS con­fig­ured for mar­itime op­er­a­tions (‘Guardian’) to en­hance the agency’s long-range ISR ca­pa­bil­i­ties. Dur­ing mis­sions in the Caribbean, Guardian has sup­ported suc­cess­ful op­er­a­tions against a se­ries of mar­itime threats, in­clud­ing counter-nar­cotics ef­forts and other il­licit ac­tiv­i­ties, con­tribut­ing to the de­feat of hu­man traf­fick­ing, piracy, and ter­ror­ist schemes.

Sim­i­lar to Preda­tor B, Preda­tor XP and Avenger can per­form mil­i­tary and civil mis­sions as their ca­pa­bil­i­ties are uniquely qual­i­fied to sup­port law en­force­ment, pub­lic safety, search and res­cue, and emer­gency re­sponse op­er­a­tions. GA-ASI’s Preda­tor se­ries RPAS are cur­rently op­er­at­ing within civil airspace, and the com­pany is par­tic­i­pat­ing in world-lead­ing airspace in­te­gra­tion ini­tia­tives.

GA-ASI is a world leader in ISR tech­nolo­gies and is best known for its Preda­tor fam­ily of RPAS, cur­rently in op­er­a­tion world­wide. Amass­ing nearly 40,000 flight hours per month, the com­pany’s air­craft have ac­cu­mu­lated over 3.8 mil­lion cu­mu­la­tive flight hours to date. The author is the CEO of Gen­eral Atomics.

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