UAS & Robotics
General Atomics to deliver two Predator drones to Italy
- By Mark Pomerleau
- Dec 23, 2015
A U.S. Air Force MQ-1 Predator, of the kind Italy is receiving.
General Atomics, manufacturer of the MQ-1 Predator unmanned aerial vehicle, has announced that the Italian air force has accepted two of the aircraft, marking the final deliveries of the company’s Predator A product line.
The notice stated that Italy, which was the first European nation to achieve an airworthiness certification for unmanned aircraft, will use the long-range, high-altitude MQ-1s for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance.
"With the delivery of these aircraft, GA-ASI completes over two decades of delivering Predator A capabilities to the United States and allied countries," said Frank W. Pace, president of Aircraft Systems at General Atomics. "Amassing over 2.1 million cumulative flight hours and featuring the highest Mission Capable Rate of any aircraft in the Air Force's inventory, Predators will continue to keep warfighters safe by equipping them with unparalleled situational awareness for many years to come."
The State Department in November announced the possible sale of weaponized MQ-9 Reapers, the Predator’s larger cousin, to the Italian air force. The potential sale would be the first such transfer of weaponized unmanned assets to a partner nation other than the UK. Italy is a NATO ally and has been an increasingly important partner in the counterterrorism fight.
The Predator is capable of flying at altitudes of 25,000 feet for up to 40 hours, in some cases, and, only when operated by the U.S. Air Force, can carry up to two Hellfire missiles.
Mark Pomerleau is a former editorial fellow with GCN and Defense Systems.