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RQ-1/MQ-1 Predator Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (Retired)

TALLIL AIR BASE, Iraq -- A Predator from the 46th Expeditionary Reconnaissance Squadron here lands Jan. 20.  The Predator is a remotely piloted vehicle that provides real-time surveillance imagery supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom.  (U.S. Air Force Photo by Staff Sgt. Suzanne M. Jenkins)

TALLIL AIR BASE, Iraq -- A Predator from the 46th Expeditionary Reconnaissance Squadron here lands Jan. 20. The Predator is a remotely piloted vehicle that provides real-time surveillance imagery supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Staff Sgt. Suzanne M. Jenkins)

TALLIL AIR BASE, Iraq -- Senior Airman Robert Mascorro marshals an RQ-1 Predator aircraft here Jan. 20.  The Predator is a remotely piloted vehicle that provides real-time surveillance imagery supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom.  Airman Mascorro is assigned to the 46th Expeditionary Reconnaissance Squadron.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Suzanne M. Jenkins)

TALLIL AIR BASE, Iraq -- Senior Airman Robert Mascorro marshals an RQ-1 Predator aircraft here Jan. 20. The Predator is a remotely piloted vehicle that provides real-time surveillance imagery supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom. Airman Mascorro is assigned to the 46th Expeditionary Reconnaissance Squadron. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Suzanne M. Jenkins)

BALAD AIR BASE, Iraq -- Airman 1st Class Chris Korenaga checks the camera system of an RQ-1 Predator unmanned aerial vehicle.  The Predator conducts aerial reconnaissance and patrols around the base's perimeter.  Airman Korenaga is a crew chief with the 46th Expeditionary Aerial Reconnaissance Squadron and deployed from the 757th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Cohen Young)

BALAD AIR BASE, Iraq -- Airman 1st Class Chris Korenaga checks the camera system of an RQ-1 Predator unmanned aerial vehicle. The Predator conducts aerial reconnaissance and patrols around the base's perimeter. Airman Korenaga is a crew chief with the 46th Expeditionary Aerial Reconnaissance Squadron and deployed from the 757th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Cohen Young)

OPERATION IRAQI FREEDOM - Staff Sgt. James Barr, a maintenance member of the 46th Expeditionary Reconaissance Squadron,connects an aircraft starter cart to an RQ-1 Predator to start the engine for a mission. Operation Iraqi Freedom is the multinational coalition effort to liberate the Iraqi people, eliminate Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction and end the regime of Saddam Hussein. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Karen J. Tomasik)

OPERATION IRAQI FREEDOM - Staff Sgt. James Barr, a maintenance member of the 46th Expeditionary Reconaissance Squadron,connects an aircraft starter cart to an RQ-1 Predator to start the engine for a mission. Operation Iraqi Freedom is the multinational coalition effort to liberate the Iraqi people, eliminate Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction and end the regime of Saddam Hussein. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Karen J. Tomasik)

OPERATION ENDURING FREEDOM (AFIE) -- RQ-1 Predator unmanned aerial vehicles, like this one, have been used to increase battlefield awareness at operating locations in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. Intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) assets, including unmanned aerial vehicles, RC-135V/W Rivet Joint, U-2A Dragon Lady, E-3A Sentry airborne warning and control system (AWACS), and EC -130E/H Commando Solo, have flown more than 325 missions to provide battlefield awareness in support of OEF.  (U.S. Air Force courtesy photo)

OPERATION ENDURING FREEDOM (AFIE) -- RQ-1 Predator unmanned aerial vehicles, like this one, have been used to increase battlefield awareness at operating locations in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. Intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) assets, including unmanned aerial vehicles, RC-135V/W Rivet Joint, U-2A Dragon Lady, E-3A Sentry airborne warning and control system (AWACS), and EC -130E/H Commando Solo, have flown more than 325 missions to provide battlefield awareness in support of OEF. (U.S. Air Force courtesy photo)

FILE PHOTO -- The RQ-1 Predator is a medium-altitude, long-endurance unmanned aerial vehicle system. The Predator is a system, not just an aircraft. The fully operational system consists of four air vehicles (with sensors), a ground control station and a Predator primary satellite link communication suite.  (Courtesy photo)

FILE PHOTO -- The RQ-1 Predator is a medium-altitude, long-endurance unmanned aerial vehicle system. The Predator is a system, not just an aircraft. The fully operational system consists of four air vehicles (with sensors), a ground control station and a Predator primary satellite link communication suite. (Courtesy photo)

OPERATION IRAQI FREEDOM - Maintenance workers perform last minute preflight checks on an RQ-1 Predator before a mission at a forward-deployed location.  The Department of Defense's Unmanned Aerial Vehicles Roadmap provides a defensewide vision for UAVs and related technology.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jeremy T. Lock)

OPERATION IRAQI FREEDOM - Maintenance workers perform last minute preflight checks on an RQ-1 Predator before a mission at a forward-deployed location. The Department of Defense's Unmanned Aerial Vehicles Roadmap provides a defensewide vision for UAVs and related technology. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jeremy T. Lock)

Mission
The MQ-1 Predator is a medium-altitude, long-endurance, remotely piloted aircraft. The MQ-1's primary mission is interdiction and conducting armed reconnaissance against critical, perishable targets. When the MQ-1 is not actively pursuing its primary mission, it acts as the Joint Forces Air Component Commander-owned theater asset for reconnaissance, surveillance and target acquisition in support of the Joint Forces commander.

Features
The MQ-1 Predator is a system, not just an aircraft. A fully operational system consists of four aircraft (with sensors), a ground control station, a Predator Primary Satellite Link, and approximately 55 personnel for deployed 24-hour operations.

The basic crew for the Predator is one pilot and one sensor operator. They fly the aircraft from inside the ground control station via a C-Band line-of-sight data link or a Ku-Band satellite data link for beyond line-of-sight flight. The aircraft is equipped with a color nose camera (generally used by the pilot 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 while the SAR produces still frame radar images.

The MQ-1 Predator carries the Multi-spectral Targeting System with inherent AGM-114 Hellfire missile targeting capability and integrates electro-optical, infrared, laser designator and laser illuminator into a single sensor package. The aircraft can employ two laser-guided Hellfire anti-tank missiles with the MTS ball.

The system is composed of four major components which can be deployed for worldwide operations. The Predator aircraft can be disassembled and loaded into a "coffin." The ground control system is transportable in a C-130 (or larger) transport aircraft. The Predator can operate on a 5,000 by 75 feet (1,524 meters by 23 meters), hard surface runway with clear line-of-sight. The ground data terminal antenna provides line-of-sight communications for takeoff and landing. The PPSL provides over-the-horizon communications for the aircraft.

An alternate method of employment, Remote Split Operations, employs a smaller version of the GCS called the Launch and Recovery GCS. The LRGCS conducts takeoff and landing operations at the forward deployed location while the CONUS based GCS conducts the mission via extended communications links.

The aircraft includes an ARC-210 radio, an APX-100 IFF/SIF with Mode 4, an upgraded turbo-charged engine and glycol-weeping "wet wings" for ice mitigation. The latest upgrade includes fuel injection, longer wings, dual alternators and other improvements.

Background
The "M" is the Department of Defense designation for multi-role and "Q" means unmanned aircraft system. The "1" refers to the aircraft being the first of a series of purpose-built remotely piloted aircraft systems.

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-1 Predator system. A change in designation from "RQ-1" to "MQ-1" occurred in 2002 with the addition of the armed reconnaissance role.

Operational squadrons are the 11th, 15th and 17th Reconnaissance Squadrons, Indian Springs Air Force Auxiliary Field, Nev.

General Characteristics
Primary Function: Armed reconnaissance, airborne surveillance and target acquisition
Contractor: General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Incorporated
Power Plant: Rotax 914 four cylinder engine producing 101 horsepower
Length: 27 feet (8.22 meters)
Height: 6.9 feet (2.1 meters)
Weight: 1,130 pounds ( 512 kilograms) empty, maximum takeoff weight 2,250 pounds (1,020 kilograms)
Wingspan: 48.7 feet (14.8 meters)
Speed: Cruise speed around 84 mph (70 knots), up to 135 mph
Range: up to 400 nautical miles (454 miles)
Ceiling: up to 25,000 feet (7,620 meters)
Fuel Capacity: 665 pounds (100 gallons)
Payload: 450 pounds (204 kilograms)
System Cost: $40 million (1997 dollars)
Initial operational capability: March 2005
Inventory: Active force, 57; ANG, 0; Reserve, 0 

November 2019