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Jet-Powered Predator B Makes Successful First Flight

Jet-Powered Predator B Makes Successful First Flight

By Cyndi Wegerbauer.

San Diego, California -- February 2, 2001 (GA-ASI) -- General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc., a leading manufacturer of unmanned aircraft surveillance systems, announced that Predator B 001, GA-ASI's newest prop jet-powered variant of the U.S. Air Force RQ-1 Predator aircraft system made its first flight today, operating from the company's flight operations facility in El Mirage, California. The Predator B flight was uneventful and the aircraft landed with no discrepancies.

 Photo General Atomics-Aeronautical Systems Inc.

Beginning as a company funded initiative in 1999, the Predator B program transitioned in January 2000 to a jointly-funded effort by GA-ASI and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).The program consists of three aircraft with varying configurations. Predator B 001 is equipped with a GE TPE-331-10T turboprop engine. Weighing in at a gross-takeoff weight of 6,400 pounds, Predator B 001 carries 750 pounds of payload at speeds of over 200 KIAS to altitudes of 50,000 feet.

Photo General Atomics-Aeronautical Systems Inc.

Currently being manufactured, Predator B 002 will be equipped with triple-redundant fault-tolerant avionics and a Williams FJ44-2A turbo jet engine. This aircraft will fly to speeds of 270 KIAS at an altitude of 60,000 feet. First flight of Predator 002 is planned for fall 2001. The last aircraft in the Predator B series, ALTAIR, will be developed specifically for scientific and commercial applications that require large payload capacities and operations to 52,000 feet. ALTAIR will be configured with the Honeywell TPE-331-10T turbo prop engine. This aircraft will empower the science community with a significant capability to perform various atmospheric research missions simultaneously while transmitting the data collected to scientists and researchers in real-time via satellite.

From a military perspective, the Predator B series will have increased speeds to allow it to transit and be repositioned quickly to new operating areas to provide critical and timely reconnaissance and targeting of ground activities. Coupled with its capacity to carry large payloads to even higher altitudes than those of the original Predator, Predator B will have a greater standoff from high threat areas. In fact, Predator B will be capable of simultaneous carriage of numerous payloads such as a larger more capable camera system, the General Atomics Lynx synthetic aperture radar (SAR), a laser target designator, weapons and other detection systems.

Based on the experience of over 30,000 flight hours logged by the company's Predator, I-GNAT, Prowler II and ALTUS remotely operated aircraft, GA-ASI designed the Predator B series to high performance levels to meet U.S. Air Force and other scientific mission applications. Further information, videos and photos of the Predator B and other GA-ASI programs can be found at www.gat.com/asi/aero.html.

Contact: Cyndi Wegerbauer, Public Relations Manager, General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. Tel 858-455-2294; Fax: 858-455-4247 (wegerb@gat.com)


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Directeur de la publication : Joël-François Dumont
Comité de rédaction : Jacques de Lestapis, Hugues Dumont, François de Vries (Bruxelles), Hans-Ulrich Helfer (Suisse), Michael Hellerforth (Allemagne).
Comité militaire : VAE Guy Labouérie (†), GAA François Mermet (2S), CF Patrice Théry (Asie).