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Subject: What chance the Predator C for the ADF?
Volkodav    4/22/2009 5:51:17 AM
aviation week and space technology Predator C Avenger Makes First Flights Apr 19, 2009 By David A. Fulghum and Bill Sweetman A new, reduced-signature, unmanned aircraft - the long-rumored, 20-hr.-endurance, pure-jet Predator C Avenger - has emerged from General Atomics Aeronautical Systems' workshops after a 3½-year gestation period paced by massive growth in UAV production and the use of unmanned designs in combat. The UAV's undeniably stealthed-up exterior offers several clues about how the aircraft could be employed. A weapons bay allows internal carriage of 500-lb. bombs with GBU-38 JDAM tail kit and laser guidance. Given the aircraft's 41-ft. length (which will expand by at least 2 ft. in the second test aircraft), the weapons bay appears to be 10 ft. long. The weapons bay doors can be removed to allow installation of a semi-submerged, wide-area surveillance pod, says Tom Cassidy, president, General Atomics Aeronautical Systems' Aircraft Systems Group. Cassidy has earned a unique reputation by using company funds to develop what he believes the military needs rather than chasing Pentagon requirements that shift with disheartening regularity to produce cost increases and production delays. The result is a family of Gnat and Predator designs that are used by all the services and intelligence agencies. The Predator C, like the B-variants, is designed to carry about 3,000 lb. of weapons and sensors. In a non-stealthy environment, weapons could also be attached externally on the fuselage and wings. For an additional 2 hr. of flying time, fuel tanks can be installed in the weapons bay. Normal fuel storage is split 50/50 between the wings and fuselage. The Avenger's electrical power is expected, at least initially, to be less than the 45 kva. available on Predator B variants. A long, featureless underside provides a low-distortion design for carriage of a wide-area surveillance sensor such as an all-weather, active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar. The wide-area surveillance system - to be provided by the Air Force - has yet to be defined. However, it would be carried by a specialized all-reconnaissance version of the Avenger. A Lynx SAR is likely carried in the lower part of the nose. Absent from the prototype is the EO/IR sensor turret used by the Predator family. A retractable installation may have been developed. The vertically-oriented V-tail both deflects radar and shields the 4,800-lb. thrust Pratt & Whitney Canada's PW545B engine exhaust's infrared signature. Predator C has two all-flying tail surfaces with two servos each for flight-control redundancy. The humpbacked design of the engine compartment offers room enough for a serpentine exhaust that eliminates radar observation of the engine. Pratt & Whitney has been developing an S-shaped exhaust that offers protection from radar observation and cooling to reduce the IR signature. The engine is expected to provide an airspeed of at least 400 kt., but Cassidy says envelope expansion tests may produce speeds "considerably greater" than that. Its operational altitude is up to 60,000 ft. The Avenger's 17-deg. swept wing (66-ft. span) and tail edges are all parallel in plan view with one or the other leading edges. It is the same shaping discipline used on classic stealth designs like the B-22 and B-2. The cranked trailing edge provides the aerodynamic and structural benefits of a tapered wing and helps shield the engine inlet from radar. Canted upper and power body sides meet at a sharp chine line, continuous from nose to tail, thereby avoiding the radar cross-section hot spot caused by a curved side. The thickness and curvature of the inboard wing are noteworthy, pointing to an effort to achieve laminar flow over as much of the wing as possible. The prototype carries tufts over the left wing/body junction that allow engineers to visualize airflow in that area. General Atomics Aeronautical's parent company includes a division that produces materials for controlling radar, optical and infrared signatures. Adjacent to the company's Rancho Bernardo, Calif., facility are the world's largest indoor radar cross section testing ranges. Likely challenges would have included building a "bandpass" radome for the satcom antenna above the nose. It must be transparent at the Ku-band used by most airborne satcoms, but opaque at lower frequencies used by fighter and missile radars. Again, that capability mimics the F-22 and F-35. The aircraft was designed so the wings can be folded for storage in hangars or aircraft carrier operations if a naval customer is found. Cassidy, a retired admiral, has talked about a possible Navy role for Predator C since 2002. The Navy was interested in the Predator B's capabilities, but didn't want to introduce any new propeller-driven aircraft onto carrier decks. The UAV also comes with a tailhook, suggesting that carrier-related trials are planned. The inner section of the cranked wing i
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Aussiegunneragain       4/22/2009 7:50:44 AM

It looks like a good option, especially for strategic reconnasciance with our current RF-111C capability being retired in 2010.

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Aussiegunneragain    The official press release   4/22/2009 7:56:08 AM
Especially cool bits highlighted in yellow.

GA-ASI Successfully Executes First Flight of Predator C Avenger

Next Generation Aircraft in Predator UAS Series Produced on Company Funds to Speed Delivery of New Capabilities to War Fighter

SAN DIEGO ? 20 April 2009 ? General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA&S209;ASI), a leading manufacturer of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), tactical reconnaissance radars, and surveillance systems, today announced the introduction of its next generation aircraft in the extremely successful Predator® UAS series, Predator C Avenger®. The first flight of the new multi-mission jet-powered Avenger occurred on April 4 at the company?s Gray Butte Flight Operations Facility in Palmdale, Calif., with the aircraft landing without any discrepancies and ready to fly again once refueled. Subsequent flights were successfully executed on April 13 and April 14, with the test program now ongoing.

?Following in the footsteps of the proven Predator B, Avenger adds yet another flexible and multi-mission capability to the Predator UAS series and is a testament to GA-ASI?s continuing practice of developing and delivering proven unmanned aircraft to military customers,? said Thomas J. Cassidy, Jr., president, Aircraft Systems Group, General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. ?Our company has been uniquely successful in forecasting military needs and delivering extremely capable unmanned aircraft that are ready for near-term military use. Just as the first two Predator B aircraft were developed and flown on IRAD [Internal Research and Development] funding because we saw the need for this type of capability, likewise, Avenger was developed through foresight and significant company investment provided by our Chairman and CEO, Neal Blue.?

Avenger was designed and developed with the intent of making a UAS that was more survivable in higher threat environments and to provide the U.S. Air Force and other potential customers with an expanded quick-response armed reconnaissance capability. The aircraft will have higher operational and transit speeds than current Predator-series aircraft, resulting in fast response and rapid repositioning for improved mission flexibility and survivability. Wide-area surveillance, armed reconnaissance, border surveillance, time-sensitive strike, and quick response capability missions for use against conventional and asymmetric threats (e.g., terrorists, pirates) are among its key missions.
Avenger?s new capabilities complement the operational flexibility of Predator/MQ-1 Predators and Predator B/MQ-9 Reapers by expanding the operational envelope of this series of aircraft. Predator/MQ-1 provides the high-flight endurance levels required on certain missions; Predator B/MQ-9 features a large weapons carriage capability, coupled with long endurance, as well as maritime surveillance; and now Predator C rounds out the flexibility of these aircraft systems with quick response armed reconnaissance.

Avenger presents a no risk/low-cost procurement option as it employs the same proven materials and avionics as Predator B and is controlled from and fully compatible with the standard GA-ASI Ground Control Stations (GCSs) used to control all Predator-series aircraft currently in use by U.S. and allied military services. The aircraft is slightly larger than PredatorB, incorporates a certified pure jet powerplant (Pratt & Whitney?s PW545B), and can carry the same mix of weapons as Predator B.

With a 41-foot long fuselage and 66-foot wingspan, Avenger is capable of flying at over 400 KTAS and can operate up to 60,000 feet. Aircraft sensors will include a GA-ASI Lynx® Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) and various Electro-optical/Infrared (EO/IR) camera systems. A system based on Lockheed Martin?s F-35 FLIR is currently being evaluated, as well as an in-house full-motion video sensor. A pure reconnaissance version will be capable of carrying a wide-area surveillance system internally for special mission applications.
?Avenger further defines the level of technical innovation that American companies are capable of producing, and this kind of company initiative saves the government extensive amounts of money and development time while providing the war fighter with new combat systems quickly,? noted Ca
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Volkodav       4/22/2009 8:22:54 AM
Folding wings and tail hook.....
I wonder what its take off run would be with 24 kt+ WOD of and a ski jump?
Considering the LHD's will be larger than Melbourne was, how hard would it be to rig arrester gear?

It would be fantastic for overwatch for an amphib operation.
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Aussie Diggermark 2       4/23/2009 8:44:11 AM
Would have anything to do with "BAMS" being postponed would it?
I imagine a fast, high altitude, low observable UAV with wide area ISR and strike capabilities might be "right up" ADF's alley...

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