General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc will look to provide its Predator XP platform as a contractor-owned, contractor-operated (COCO) service, opening up its potential user base.
Speaking to Jane’s at IDEX 2017 in Abu Dhabi, Jim Thomson, the company’s regional vice-president, said the COCO approach will enable customers who are unable to afford to procure systems and establish the associated infrastructure – maintenance, logistics, training etc. – to benefit from the capability that the platform provides; likewise it would enable customers who only require a short-term capability to take advantage of the Predator XP.
The XP is the company’s designation for its export-cleared variant of the Predator unmanned aircraft system (UAS), which has been developed to meet the requirements of the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR). The XP is an unarmed platform and falls under Category 2 of the MTCR.
While the XP has less payload capacity and is slower than the Predator B (MQ-9 Reaper) it has an extended endurance, Thomson noted, adding that a platform has flown for in excess of 40 hours, landing with 50 lb of fuel to spare.
The Predator XP leverages technologies from the Predator B and Gray Eagle systems, and can accommodate a wide range of payloads, to include electro-optical/infrared packages and the likes of General Atomics’ own Lynx multimode radar, which features a state-of-the-art synthetic aperture radar (SAR) mode that has an all-weather, day/night capability and offers wide-area search and a ground moving target indicator. The aircraft can also be equipped with the Automatic Identification System (AIS) for identifying vessels at sea.
The United Arab Emirates is the launch customer for the Predator XP and has taken into service its Predator RQ-1E systems.
While the initial training for the UAE’s personnel has taken place in the United States, Thomson said that there is an aspiration to establish a training centre in the UAE.
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