MQ-1 Armed Predator Achieves IOC


Released on Tuesday, March 1, 2005
United States of America
AGM-114C Hellfire
C-130H Hercules
CV-22B Osprey
MH-53J Pave Low III
MQ-1 Predator
RQ-1B Predator
X-45C
ACC - Air Combat Command
IOC - Initial Operational Capability
ISR - Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance
J-UCAS - Joint Unmanned Combat Air System
SAR - Search and Rescue
SAR - Synthetic Aperture Radar
UAV - Unmanned Aerial Vehicle
The US Air Force Air Combat Command (ACC) has cleared the MQ-1 Predator armed unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) for operational use announcing it has reached Initial Operating Capability (IOC). This milestone comes after MQ-1 was successfully deployed during operations Enduring Freedom (Afghanistan, 2001) and Iraqi Freedom (Iraq, 2003).

IOC announcement is the result of demonstrating eleven key capabilities of MQ-1 Predator, the most important of them aircraft supportability, maintainability and parts and aircraft availability. The original Predator (RQ-1A) was designed to be an 'eye-in-the-sky' conducting intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) missions in support of US military services. It was first deployed during the middle 1990s on the Balkan theater in the former Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.

MQ-1 differs from previous Predator models due to the addition of a weapons capability carrying Hellfire anti-tank missiles enabled through advanced sensors that allow the aircraft's weapon system to acquire ground targets. The MQ-1 is expected to achieve full operational capability as soon as possible. The US Air Force gets a primary/interim UAV strike capability through the upgraded Predator, but in the long term a dedicated UAV for strike missions, being developed under J-UCAS program, is expected to assume that role for both the US Navy and the US Air Force.

Officials at Edwards Air Force Base, California, have released that the third CV-22 test aircraft has been delivered to the US Air Force over there. This aircraft and its two predecessors are expected to participate in the CV-22 Osprey operational testing program beginning in the summer 2006. The third aircraft will undergo several week of modifications to install Special Operations Forces instrumentation to conduct night flying, low altitude operations in bad weather and search and rescue (SAR) missions. The test program will include inertial navigation, electronic navigation, multimode radar and integrated systems evaluations.

The CV-22 Osprey intended for the US Air Force combines the best capabilities of MH-53 Pave Low helicopter and C-130 tactical transport aircraft. The Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft can go twice as far as the MH-53 helicopter, taking-off and landing vertically and flying like an airplane.

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