The turboprop and jet-powered Predator B unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) has won its designers, General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, the prestigious "Unmanned Vehicles" magazine's award for design innovation. The award was presented last Thursday at the Shephard Press Unmanned Vehicles Conference in Paris and came as UAVs figured at Le Bourget in record numbers. "A tremendous amount of work has gone into the design of Predator B," said General Atomics CEO Thomas Cassidy. "My congratulations and thanks go to the team of professionals who created it." Launched in 1999 as a company-funded initiative to enhance the existing propeller-powered RQ-1 Predator, the Predator B programme turned into a joint effort by General Atomics and NASA in January 2000.The initial programme comprises three aircraft of varying configurations. Powered by a Honeywell TPE331-10T turboprop, Predator B 001 will ultimately carry over 340kg (750lb) of payload at speeds of over 200kt (370km/hr) to altitudes of 45,000ft. Evaluation and envelope-expansion flights are scheduled to continue through the year. The No 2 and 3 aircraft configurations have been tailored to meet specific operational requirements, according to the company. Predator B 002 will be a pure jet capable of speeds up to 270kt (500km/hr) and altitudes of 60,000ft. The third aircraft, named Altair, was developed specifically for scientific and commercial applications require large payloads.

Source: Flight Daily News