RQ-1A Predator is a long endurance, medium altitude unmanned aircraft system for surveillance and reconnaissance missions. Surveillance imagery from synthetic aperture radar, video cameras and a forward looking infra-red (FLIR) can be distributed in real time both to the front line soldier and to the operational commander or worldwide in real time via satellite communication links. A contract was awarded to General Atomics Aeronautical Systems in January 1994 to execute the Tier II, Medium Altitude Endurance Predator Program. The Predator system first flew in 1994 and entered production in August 1997. Predators are currently in production for the US Air Force and are operational with the USAF 11th and 15th Reconnaissance Squadrons. Over 80 Predators have been delivered to the USAF out of 85 under contract. The Italian Air Force is to acquire six Predator UAVs from General Atomics, with Italian company Meteor as subcontractor responsible for assembly of five of the six. Predator UAVs have been operational in Bosnia since 1995, where they have flown over 600 missions in support of NATO, UN and US operations. Predators have also been deployed as part of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan and Operation Iraqi Freedom. General Atomics is the prime contractor and the main subcontractors include: Versatron/Wescam for the electro-optical Skyball Gimbal; Northrop Grumman for the synthetic aperture radar; L3 Communication for the wideband satellite communications link; and Boeing for the intelligence workstation and mission planning system. In February 2001, the Hellfire-C laser-guided missile was successfully fired from a Predator air vehicle in flight tests at Nellis air force base, Nevada. In November 2002 in Yemen, a Predator UAV was used to drop a Hellfire missile which destroyed a civilian vehicle carrying suspected terrorists. A Northrop Grumman Bat submunition was successfully dropped and a FINDER mini-UAV launched from a Predator UAV in August 2002.

Primary Function: Airborne surveillance reconnaissance and target acquisition
Contractor: General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Incorporated
Power Plant: Rotax 914 four cylinder engine producing 101 horsepower
Length: 27 feet (8.22 meters)
Height: 6.9 feet (2.1 meters)
Weight: 1,130 pounds ( 512 kilograms) empty, maximum takeoff weight 2,250 pounds (1,020 kilograms)
Wingspan: 48.7 feet (14.8 meters)
Speed: Cruise speed around 84 mph (70 knots), up to 135 mph
Range: up to 400 nautical miles (454 miles)
Ceiling: up to 25,000 feet (7,620 meters)
Fuel Capacity: 665 pounds (100 gallons)
Payload: 450 pounds (204 kilograms)
System Cost: $40 million (1997 dollars)
Inventory: Active force, 48; ANG, 0; Reserve, 0