In operation since 1995, the Predator has been used in Afghanistan, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kosovo, Iraq and Yemen.
While the Predator will remain in the desert, the unmanned aerial vehicle’s crew is expected to arrive at Cannon Air Force Base in June according to Col. J.D. Clem, director of plans and programs for the 3rd Operations squadron.
According to military officials, the MQ-1 Predator is a system, not just an aircraft. A fully operational system consists of four aircraft (with sensors), a ground control station, a Predator Primary Satellite Link and approximately 55 personnel for deployed 24-hour operations.
The Air Force Special Operations Command Web site asserts that “The Predator system was designed in response to a Department of Defense requirement to provide persistent intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance information to the warfighter.”
Primary Function: Armed reconnaissance, airborne surveillance and target acquisition
Contractor: General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Incorporated
Power Plant: Rotax 914F four cylinder engine producing 115 horsepower
Length: 27 feet (8.22 meters)
Height: 6.9 feet (2.1 meters)
Weight: 1,130 pounds ( 512 kilograms) empty
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)
Armament: two laser-guided AGM-114 Hellfire missiles
Unit Cost: $40 million (fiscal 1997 dollars)
Produced to conduct long-range infiltration, exfiltration and resupply missions for Special Ops, the CV-22 Osprey combines the vertical takeoff, hover and vertical landing qualities of a helicopter with the range, fuel-efficiency and speed of a turboprop aircraft, according to the Armed Forces Special Operations Web site.
The aircraft is equipped with “integrated threat countermeasures, terrain-following radar, forward looking infrared sensor, and other advanced avionics systems that allow it to operate at low altitudes in adverse weather conditions and medium-to-high threat environments,” according to the AFSOC Web site.
A modified version of the MV-22 used by the Marine Corps, the Osprey is expected to “reach initial operating capability by 2009 with a total of 50 CV-22 aircraft delivered by 2017,” according to the AFSOC Web site.
Primary function: Special operations forces, long-range infiltration, exfiltration, and resupply
Builders: Bell Helicopter Textron Inc., and Boeing Company, Defense and Space Group, Helicopter Division
Power Plant: Two Rolls Royce-Allison AE1107C turboshaft engines
Thrust: More than 6,200 shaft horsepower per engine
Length: 57 feet, 4 inches (17.4 meters)
Height: 22 feet, 1 inch (6.73 meters)
Wingspan: 84 feet, 7 inches (25.8 meters)
Rotary Diameter: 38 feet (11.6 meters)
Speed: 277 miles per hour (241 knots) (cruising speed)
Ceiling: 25,000 feet (7,620 meters)
Range: 2,100 nautical miles with internal auxiliary fuel tanks and no refueling
Unit cost: $89 million (fiscal 2005 dollars)
Crew: Four (pilot, copilot and two enlisted flight engineers)