Technically, the RQ-1 Predator not just an aircraft but an entire system. Developed as an Advanced Concept Technology Demonstration (ACTD), a Predator system consists of four unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), a ground control station, a satellite communications terminal, and fifty-five personnel. The Predator UAV provides military commanders with an Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) platform capable of flying over dangerous areas for extended periods without risk to a human pilot.

In January 1994, the DoD awarded a contract for ten Predator aircraft to General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, and the first Predator flew just six months later in July 1994. Within a year, Predators were deployed to Europe, where they proved their value in operations over Bosnia from July 1995 to March 1996. In April 1996, the Secretary of Defense selected the USAF as the operating service for the RQ-1 Predator system, and the system entered production in August 1997. In subsequent deployments, the Predator system continued to prove its value to military leaders.

The pre-production version Predator aircraft was designated RQ-1K, but the entire system with all the components was designated the RQ-1A. Powered by a four-cylinder, 81-horsepower Rotax 912 engine, the RQ-1K aircraft was able to cruise at 87 miles per hour for 16 hours. The production version Predator aircraft was designated the RQ-1L, and is equipped with a turbo-charged Rotax 914 engine producing 105 horsepower. The production version system carries the designation RQ-1L.

The Predator UAV and its on-board sensors are controlled during flight by the ground crew with a direct data link. However, when the Predator is flown beyond the range of a direct link, the ground crew maintains control though a satellite data link. The surveillance equipment carried in the bottom turret can provide live video, still photographs, or radar imagery in all weather conditions, day or night. Using satellite data links, the information gathered by a Predator can be shared instantaneously with military commanders around the world.

Predator Specifications

Country of Origin USA.
Similar Aerial Platform(s) D-4 NPU.
Role Reconnaissance, targeting.
Armament None.
Length 27 feet
Height 6.9 feet
Wingspan 48.7 feet
Weight 950 pounds (empty)

Predator WEFT Description

Wings Low-mounted and sharply-tapered with a slight positive slant.
Engine(s) Single, prop-driven and mounted on rear in the opposing position.
Fuselage Round, tubular. Bulging at the front one-third.
Tail Low-mounted rectangular flats and sharp negative slant. No fin.

Countries which Fly the Predator


Predator Manufacturer Web Site

The Predator is manufactured by General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA-ASI).

General Atomics Aeronautical Systems

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