The month of July calls for celebration for General Atomics, a San Diego-based technology company responsible for creating a drone that has permanently shaped aerial surveillance and warfare. Turning 25 this month, the first prototype of the Predator drone series took flight in July 1994 and then was implemented in the United States military in 1995.
Even though production of the original drones ended in 2011, approximately 320 of the Predator A drones were made. The 320 drones accomplished about 141,000 missions with two million flight hours total. The significance behind the Predators was their ability to utilize missiles and provide ongoing surveillance while pilots could control the drone from a safe remote location, such as an airbase. The use of the Predators led to the discovery of Osama Bin Laden’s location in Afghanistan and gave vital information on other terrorist leaders.
As time has progressed, the technology has only become more sophisticated. As newer versions are being created, the capabilities are only improving, including a speed of 300mph and the ability to fly for 14 consecutive hours. Furthermore, the most recent model of the series, the MQ-9B Sky Guardian, will now be able to work in partnership with commercial aircraft in national airspace along with being the most combat-proven remotely piloted aircraft (RPA) in the world.
To this day, General Atomics is still developing and improving upon the Predator series for the next United States and Allied mission at its Poway facility. Yet, the 25th celebration of the original drone serves as a proud milestone and illustrates the quality of work at the company. The sky is truly the limit for General Atomics in producing the most state of the art military technology.
Photo by SDASM Archives via Flickr