Air Force speeds up Predator unmanned aircraft production

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AFB, Ohio, 22 June 2005. U.S. Air Force leaders are speeding up production of the RQ/MQ-1 Predator unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), and are placing orders for an upgraded version of the pilotless reconnaissance plane.

Jun 22nd, 2005

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AFB, Ohio, 22 June 2005. U.S. Air Force leaders are speeding up production of the RQ/MQ-1 Predator unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), and are placing orders for an upgraded version of the pilotless reconnaissance plane.

The Predator and other UAVs have been instrumental in conventional and counter-terrorism military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as in previous conflicts. An armed version of Predator carriers Hellfire missiles as well as surveillance gear.

Officials of the Air Force Aeronautical Systems Center at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, awarded a $72.7 million contract to Predator maker General Atomics-Aeronautical Systems in San Diego June 21 not only to accelerate production of 17 Predator UAVs, but also to produce 15 upgraded versions.

The upgraded Predator UAVs -- the MQ-1L Block 10 -- has a high-performance turbo-supercharged Rotax 914 UL engine and de-icing equipment. It can reach an altitude of about 26,000 feet, where it can cruise for as long as 24 hours at speeds between 60 and 70 knots.

The contract to General Atomics also includes support equipment, aircraft initial spares, readiness spares package kits, and multi-aircraft ground-control station initial spares. The contract number is FA8620-04-C-4005, P00010.

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