Tue, Jan 03, 2012
Predator C 'Avenger' Is Larger, Faster, Stealthier
The Predator, a drone series manufactured by General Atomics,
has established a reputation which extends beyond aviation and
military circles. The US Air Force has now acquired its first
example of the third generation of the UAV, called the Predator C
Avenger, for testing. The aircraft reportedly makes another leap in
capabilities for speed, stealth and payload.
Pentagon Spokeswoman Jennifer Cassidy tells the Los Angeles
Times the $15 million armed drone has been acquired solely for
testing for now, saying, "There is no intention to deploy the
aircraft in the war in Afghanistan at this time."
Phil Finnegan, an aerospace expert with the Teal Group, tells
the paper, "As the U.S. looks at threats beyond Iraq and
Afghanistan - where it has complete air dominance - it needs
aircraft that are going to be stealthier and faster so they won't
be shot down by enemy air defense."
Compared to the earlier-generation MQ-9 Reaper drone, also made
by General Atomics, the Avenger can carry 2,000-lb. of bombs, four
times as much weight, carries them in an internal bay vs. the
Reaper's under-wing system for a reduced radar signature, and has a
turbofan engine allowing flight at 460 MPH, a huge jump past the
Reaper's 276-MPH top end.
David A. Deptula, a retired three-star general who spent his
USAF career focused on intelligence, surveillance and
reconnaissance, tells the Times the Air Force will evaluate the
Avenger for its radar detectability, weapons delivery and overall
performance before deciding whether to buy more.
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