The MQ-1B Predator is an armed, multi-mission, medium-altitude, long-endurance remotely piloted aircraft that is employed primarily as an intelligence-collection asset and secondarily against dynamic execution targets. Given its significant loiter time, wide-range sensors, multi-mode communications suite, and precision weapons, it provides a unique capability to perform strike, coordination and reconnaissance (SCAR) against high-value, fleeting, and time-sensitive targets. Predators can also perform the following missions and tasks: intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, close air support, combat search and rescue, precision strike, buddy-lase, convoy/raid overwatch, route clearance, target development, and terminal air guidance. The MQ-1’s capabilities make it uniquely qualified to conduct irregular warfare operations in support of combatant commander objectives.
The Predator is part of a remotely piloted aircraft system. A fully operational system consists of four sensor/weapon-equipped aircraft, ground control station, Predator Primary Satellite Link, and spare equipment, along with operations and maintenance crews for deployed 24-hour missions.
The basic crew for the Predator is a rated pilot to control the aircraft and command the mission, and an enlisted aircrew member to operate sensors and weapons as well as a mission coordinator, when required. The crew employs the aircraft from inside the ground control station via a line-of-sight data link or a satellite data link for beyond line-of-sight operations.
The Predator carries the Multi-Spectral Targeting System, which integrates an infrared sensor, color/monochrome daylight TV camera, image-intensified TV camera, laser designator and laser illuminator. The full-motion video from each of the imaging sensors can be viewed as separate video streams or fused. The aircraft can employ two laser-guided missiles, Air-to-Ground Missile-114 Hellfire, that possess highly accurate, low-collateral damage, and anti-armor, anti-personnel engagement capabilities.
The remotely piloted aircraft system can be deployed for worldwide operations; likewise, the Predator can be disassembled and loaded into a container for travel. The ground control system and PPSL are transportable in a C-130 Hercules (or larger) transport aircraft. The Predator can operate on a 5,000 by 75-foot (1,524 meters by 23 meters) hard-surface runway with clear line-of-sight to the ground data terminal antenna. The antenna provides line-of-sight communications for takeoff and landing. The PPSL provides over-the-horizon communications for the aircraft and sensors.
Primary function: armed reconnaissance, airborne surveillance, and target acquisition
Contractor: General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc.
Power plant: Rotax 914F four-cylinder engine
Thrust: 115 horsepower
Wingspan: 55 feet (16.8 meters)
Length: 27 feet (8.22 meters)
Height: 7 feet (2.1 meters)
Weight: 1,130 pounds ( 512 kilograms) empty
Maximum takeoff weight: 2,250 pounds (1,020 kilograms)
Fuel capacity: 665 pounds (100 gallons)
Payload: 450 pounds (204 kilograms)
Speed: cruise speed around 84 mph (70 knots), up to 135 mph
Range: 770 miles (675 nautical miles)
Ceiling: 25,000 feet (7,620 meters)
Armament: two laser-guided AGM-114 Hellfire missiles
Crew (remote): two (pilot and sensor operator)
Unit cost: $20 million (includes four aircraft with sensors, ground control station and Predator Primary satellite link) (fiscal 2009 dollars)
Initial operational capability: March 2005