EXCLUSIVE: Predator C makes first flight

At the end of my interview yesterday with Thomas Cassidy, president of General Atomics Aeronautical Systems (GA-ASI), I asked about what was happening with the Predator C, the jet-powered and reportedly stealthy successor to the Predator/Reaper family.

“It flew last weekend,” he said.

GA-ASI has been internally developing the Predator C since 2005,keeping its performance, design and progress a mostly well-kept secret.It was supposed to fly for the first time last fall, but technicalissues and US FAA-imposed certification reviews kept it grounded untilearly April.

The US Air Force is looking for a next-generation unmanned aerial system to replace the MQ-1 Predator, but the timing is uncertain. The USAF has withdrawn a request for information issued to industry last year, and there’s been no word about its future.

Of course, Cassidy’s GA-ASI has never let delays in the acquisition process stop him before. It appears the Predator C is moving forward with or without the USAF. Consider this press release issued last week by Brian Bilbray, a California congressman. He has requested to earmark $26 million for Predator C in the next appropriations bill.



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8 Responses to EXCLUSIVE: Predator C makes first flight

  1. Dave 8 April, 2009 at 5:58 pm #

    Cool. If it is in fact a stealth platform you can see why the DOD is making some of the calls they’ve been making… obviously they knew this sort of aircraft would be readily available as a follow on to the Reaper. It seems General Atomics has a bright future.

    The question is why the development of the Navy’s X-47 is progressing so slowly. I wonder if its too much aircraft to develop in one go quickly or if it’s simply the Navy dragging its feet… I get the feeling the problem, atleast somewhat, lies with the Navy- that being said, I do beleive that platform has immense potential.

  2. Royce 8 April, 2009 at 10:51 pm #

    I saw in your article that Predator C has “a new wing-form and stealthy features.”

    So we have a new engine, a new wing, and presumably changes to the shape of the fuselage to increase stealth, but they’re calling it a “Predator C”? It sounds like it needs a new name.

  3. J3 9 April, 2009 at 12:18 pm #

    Steve – I have been trying to comment on your piece on Gates’ US TacAir budget published today in FlightGlobal, but cannot get to the comment box. I could at first, then the piece disappeared from today’s front page. Please help.


  4. Stephen Trimble 9 April, 2009 at 12:28 pm #

    Here’s the link to the Airspace discussion. Thanks for reading.


  5. JT 10 April, 2009 at 3:50 am #

    The military will decide on a formal name for the Predator C once a procurement deal is established. Since the A/C development was internally funded, Predator C was the natural progression for nomenclature.

  6. Mike 4 May, 2009 at 10:12 am #

    I do not agree on the production and designing of these things, as it has PROVEN not to solve the problems with violence, and next to the fact there is money to be spent to reduce poverty and increase humanity. STOP this.

  7. STEVE 10 November, 2009 at 9:53 pm #

    UAV aircraft and robotics are the inevitable future of warfare. UAV s are much cheaper than manned aircraft and more economical to support and operate. Air to Air combat with UAV s will be here soon due to the poliferation of these aircraft.
    While I agree with President Eisenhowers warning about the military industrial complex, the fact remains human kind will go to war until the end of our time. I don t see any signs of people getting along in the same neighboorhood much less the world.
    We need to keep current and the Predator C is a step in the right direction. I expect system and missle technology to grow with it as well as improved and smaller ISR and better radar views on the ground as well as in the air. Another growth area is going to be loitering munitions. Small UAVs that are the air to air missle will appear as well, or UAVs that can survive a ram or are expendable. These robots have spotted people planting IEDs and have lead the way in many battles. They are here to stay.

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