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Predator B Reaches Milestone Altitude

Predator B Reaches Milestone Altitude

San Diego, California -- (GA-ASI) August 17, 2001 -- General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA-ASI), a leading manufacturer of unmanned aircraft surveillance systems, announced today that its newest jet-powered aircraft, Predator B 001, had reached a milestone altitude of 42,000 feet yesterday during flight envelope expansion tests at Edwards Air Force Base in California. Predator B successfully landed at GA-ASI’s Flight Operations Facility after a one hour, forty-five minute flight.

General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc., (Photo library)

During the flight, Predator B underwent stability and control tests and successfully demonstrated, during a lost link test, its ability to fly a pre-programmed route in the event of a lost communication link. All aircraft control and stability objectives were met with success, including the aircraft’s performance during autonomous flight.

From lessons learned in combat and on science deployments, GA-ASI’s primary design goal for Predator B was to develop a remotely operated aircraft system based upon the reliability and proven technology of the RQ-1 Predator, IGNAT and ALTUS aircraft. With over 30,000 flight hours, these aircraft have provided GA-ASI with a blueprint for success which, when combined with jet power reliability and performance, has resulted in the flight-proven Predator B. Capable of meeting increased operational objectives of the U.S. Air Force, U.S. Navy and the science community, Predator B is capable of flying missions completely autonomously or under the control of a pilot which is also necessary for flight in national airspace.

Beginning as a company funded initiative in 1999, the Predator B program transitioned to a jointly-funded effort by GA-ASI and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in January 2000. The initial program consists of three aircraft of varying configurations. Equipped with a Honeywell TPE-331-10T turboprop engine, Predator B 001 will carry over 750 pounds of payload at speeds of over 200 KIAS to altitudes of 45,000 feet.

The second and third configurations have been tailored to meet specific operational requirements. Currently in final assembly, Predator B 002 is a pure jet configuration capable of speeds to 270 KIAS and flight to altitudes of 60,000 feet. A carrier-suitable version is also planned for development.

The third aircraft in the series is being developed specifically for scientific and commercial applications that require large payload capacities. This aircraft, named ALTAIR, will perform various atmospheric research operations at altitudes above 50,000 feet 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 that of the original Predator, Predator B will have greater standoff reconnaissance and targeting capabilities 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 electronic detection systems.

Not only will Predator B provide the military community with significant mission capabilities as a follow-on to Predator, it will also empower the science community with an unusual capacity to perform various atmospheric research missions simultaneously for long periods of up to twenty-four hours without refueling. Based upon the successes enjoyed by the Predator program using a satellite control link, GA-ASI will integrate all three Predator B variants with a standard Predator Ku band satellite system so that data collected can be transmitted in real-time to various users.

Based in San Diego, California, General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. was established in 1994 and has since grown to be the leading manufacturer of unmanned aircraft systems for militaries and the scientific communities providing reliable remotely operated aircraft for surveillance, reconnaissance, targeting, weapons delivery, atmospheric research and commercial other applications. Thomas J. Cassidy, Jr. is President and Chief Executive Officer.

Cyndi Wegerbauer, Public Relations Manager, General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. 16761 Via Del Campo Court, San Diego, CA 92127-1713 USA, + 858-455-2294; +858-455-4247 FAX - 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).