Warplanes: March 8, 2003


The U.S. Air Force just received it's 88th Predator A UAV. The air force's UAVs have racked up 65,000 flight hours so far. Half of these hours were spent in combat situations, and the Predators have been ready to go 96 percent of the time. About 30 percent of the Predator A's have been lost to accidents, pilot error, bad weather and enemy fire. Some of the Predators were lost when they were deliberately can in a dangerous position (low altitude, with range of enemy weapons), because it was considered vital to keep getting video or pictures of what ever the Predator was over. A portable, suitcase size, ground control system for Predators is being developed. This would allow other aircraft (AC-130 gunships or AWACS) to control nearby Predators. This would increase the range of the Predators. The controller of the Predator at its home base would fly it to with in range of the UAV control system equipped aircraft and hand it off. Then, when the Predator was low on fuel, it would be flown back to within range of the home base controller and control handed back so the Predator could be landed and refueled. 


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