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USAF Not Interested in Jet-Powered Predator UAV

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The U.S. Air Force Was Not Fond of the Next-Gen Predator Drone (excerpt)

(Source: War Is Boring blog; posted Nov 13, 2014)


In April 2009 General Atomics—the California-based manufacturer of the Predator drone—debuted a new and improved, jet-powered version of the iconic robot warplane.

But for all its improvements, the Predator C—or Avenger—fell flat with its biggest prospective client, the U.S. Air Force. The flying branch’s Air Combat Command recounted the chilly rejection in its official history for 2011, a copy of which War Is Boring obtained via the Freedom of Information Act.

The satellite-controlled Avenger is faster, stealthier and carries more weaponry than the earlier, propeller-driven MQ-9 Predator B model, also known by its nickname Reaper.

The Reaper is currently the U.S. Air Force’s main armed drone, but in its standard version it suffers the same inadequacies that plague the original, 1990s-vintage MQ-1 Predator A. It can’t fly in bad weather and its satellite-relayed control signal tends to lag, which can cause crashes when operators sitting in trailers in the U.S. can’t respond fast enough to problems.

It’s also possible to hack the Reaper’s video stream … and jam its GPS.

The Avenger improves on the Reaper in important ways, according to General Atomics. “Its unique design, reduced signature and speed increases its survivability in higher threat environments and provides potential customers with an expanded quick-response armed reconnaissance capability.”

But the Air Force was unimpressed. In late 2011, it bought one Avenger for testing for an estimated $15 million. And by the end of the year, the brass had passed their judgment. The Avenger “offered only minor improvements over the MQ-9,” according to the official history. (end of excerpt)


Click here for the full story, on the War Is Boring website.

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