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RQ-1 Predator Unmanned Aerial Vehicle

The RQ-1 Predator is a medium-altitude, long-endurance unmanned aerial vehicle system.

The RQ-1A/B Predator is a system, not just an aircraft. The fully operational system consists of four air vehicles (with sensors), a ground control station (GCS), a Predator primary satellite link communication suite and 55 people.


The aircraft is equipped with a color nose camera (generally used by the air vehicle operator for flight control), a day variable aperture TV camera, a variable aperture infrared camera (for low light/night) and a synthetic aperture radar for looking through smoke, clouds or haze. The cameras produce full motion video and the synthetic aperture radar produces still frame radar images. On the RQ-1B, either the daylight variable aperture or the infrared electro-optical sensor may be operated simultaneously with the synthetic aperture radar.

The Predator system was designed in response to a Department of Defense requirement to provide persistent intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance information to the warfighter.

In April 1996, the Secretary of Defense selected the U. S. Air Force as the operating service for the RQ-1A Predator system. The 11th and 15th reconnaissance squadrons, Indian Springs Air Force Auxiliary Field, Nev., currently operate the RQ-1A/B.


General Characteristics


Primary Function: Airborne surveillance reconnaissance and target acquisition
Contractor: General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Incorporated

Length: 27 feet (8.22 meters)
Height: 6.9 feet (2.1 meters)
Weight: 950 pounds (431 kilograms) empty, gross 2,250 pounds (1,020.6 kilograms)
Wingspan: 48.7 feet (14.8 meters)
Speed: Cruise speed around 84 mph (70 knots), up to 140 mph (120 knots)
Range: up to 400 nautical miles (454 miles) and then providing 16 hours of on station time before returning
Ceiling: up to 25,000 feet (7,620 meters)
Fuel Capacity: 665 pounds (100 gallons)
Payload: 450 pounds (204.1 kilograms)
System Cost: $25 million (1999 dollars)
Inventory: Active force, 5