Predator UAV

General Atomics Aeronautical Systems (GA-ASI) has successfully completed the first test flight of the Predator XP remotely piloted aircraft (RPA) at Castle Dome Airfield in the US Army’s Yuma Proving Ground Range Complex in Arizona.

Predator XP demonstrated its ability to launch, climb to operational altitude, complete basic airworthiness manoeuvres, and land without any discrepancies during the 35-minute company funded flight.

The drone has already been licensed by the US Government for export to a broader customer base, including countries in the Middle East, North Africa, South America, and Asia.

GA-ASI Aircraft Systems president Frank Pace said that the test flight represents a major milestone for the company’s newest product line designed and developed for international allies worldwide.

"We are now positioned to restart the Predator production line and proceed directly to full production in anticipation of new customer orders," Pace added.

The company is now expected to undertake a test programme to verify Predator XP’s design, including safety of flight, automatic takeoff and landing, payload and communications testing, as well as beyond line-of-sight satellite (BLOS) communications control.

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Image: Predator XP is an upgraded version of GA-ASI’s MQ-1 Predator remotely piloted aircraft. Photo: U.S. Air Force photo/Lt Col Leslie Pratt.

Defence Technology