Features include interactive map, in-depth stories, and more.Download now. »
The week's top five must-sees,
delivered to your inbox.
The General Atomics MQ-1 Predator is an unmanned aerial vehicle built by General Atomics and used primarily by the United States Air Force and Central Intelligence Agency. Initially conceived in the early 1990s for reconnaissance and forward observation roles, the Predator carries cameras and other sensors but has been modified and upgraded to carry and fire two AGM-114 Hellfire missiles or other munitions. The aircraft, in use since 1995, has seen combat over Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bosnia, Serbia, Iraq, Yemen, Libya, and Somalia. The USAF describes the Predator as a "Tier II" MALE UAS. The UAS consists of four aircraft or "air vehicles" with sensors, a ground control station, and a primary satellite link communication suite. Powered by a Rotax engine and driven by a propeller, the air vehicle can fly up to 400 nautical miles to a target, loiter overhead for 14 hours, then return to its base. Following 2001, the RQ-1 Predator became the primary unmanned aircraft used for offensive operations by the USAF and the CIA in Afghanistan and the Pakistani tribal areas; it has also been deployed elsewhere. Because offensive uses of the Predator are classified, U.S. military officials have reported an appreciation for the intelligence and reconnaissance-gathering abilities of UAVs but declined to publicly discuss their offensive use. (via Freebase)