The next generation of Predator unmanned air vehicles is moving quickly through its scheduled test programme, says General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, and should be ready to meet delivery requirements for a forthcoming Royal Air Force programme.
"The test programme for Avenger is proceeding along very well, with some results exceeding our expectations," says Frank Pace, president of General Atomics' aircraft systems group.
Stealthy, jet-powered and able to carry an internal payload of up to 1,360kg (3,000lb) plus another 1,360kg on the wing, the Predator C Avenger is expected to have a price tag of between $12 million and $15 million per system, says director of business development Chris Ames. Flying at 50,000ft (15,250m) and 400kt (740km/h) for 20h at a time and avionics commonality with the MQ-9 Reaper-designated Predator B, Ames says the Avenger is ready to fill the RAF's requirement for a next-generation medium-altitude, long-endurance (MALE) UAV, dubbed Scavenger.
© General Atomics Aeronautical Systems
"This is deployable right now," Ames says.
Potential contenders for Scavenger also include the EADS Talarion and a version of BAE Systems' Mantis.