Warplanes: December 1, 2003


Two Predator (RQ-1) UAVs successfully completed a series of tests flying maritime reconnaissance for the U.S. Coast Guard in southwest Alaska. Flying over open water in freezing weather, the Predators worked with a nearby Coast Guard cutter and transmitted video via satellite to users thousands of miles away. The Coast Guard is particularly interested in using the Predator because of the vast coastal waters that must be watched, or searched for lost boats or illegal activities. The long duration of the Predators is a major advantage, as is the lower cost to operate them compared with manned aircraft or helicopters. The Predators infrared (heat sensing) radar can be particularly effective at sea as a ship's engine, or people in a lifeboat, will show up clearly in all that cooler water. While the Predators must operate from airfields (and not ships), the operator can be aboard a Coast Guard ship, taking over after an operator at an airfield has gotten the Predator into the air. 


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