Predator C first flightPredator C Avenger flies
The new UAV from General Atomics Aeronautical Systems made its maiden flight on April 4 at the company’s Gray Butte Flight Operations Facility in Palmdale, Calif..
“Following in the footsteps of the proven Predator B, Avenger adds yet another flexible and multi-mission capability to the Predator UAS series and is a testament to GA-ASI’s continuing practice of developing and delivering proven unmanned aircraft to military customers,” said Thomas J. Cassidy, Jr., president, Aircraft Systems Group, General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. “Just as the first two Predator B aircraft were developed and flown on IRAD [Internal Research and Development] funding because we saw the need for this type of capability, likewise, Avenger was developed through foresight and significant company investment provided by our Chairman and CEO, Neal Blue.”
Avenger was designed and developed with the intent of making a UAS that was more survivable in higher threat environments and to provide the U.S. Air Force and other potential customers with an expanded quick-response armed reconnaissance capability. The aircraft will have higher operational and transit speeds than current Predator-series aircraft, resulting in fast response and rapid repositioning for improved mission flexibility and survivability.
With a 41-foot long fuselage and 66-foot wingspan, Avenger is capable of flying at over 400 KTAS and can operate up to 60,000 feet. Aircraft sensors will include a GA-ASI Lynx Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) and various Electro-optical/Infrared (EO/IR) camera systems. A system based on Lockheed Martin’s F-35 FLIR is currently being evaluated, as well as an in-house full-motion video sensor. A pure reconnaissance version will be capable of carrying a wide-area surveillance system internally for special mission applications.