The General Atomics MQ-1B Predator

The General Atomics MQ-1B Predator

The General Atomics MQ-1B Predator drone is a modification of the flagship MQ-1 Predator drone. Used by the United States Air Force, often in conjunction with the Central Intelligence Agency, the MQ-1 was initially conceived for intelligence gathering but the MQ-1B was modified for use in close air support and air interdiction roles.

US Air Force Maj. Stan Paregien

Mission Profile:

The MQ-1B Predator can be found in a large number of mission roles, from search and rescue to targeted asset removal. It has played an important role in the War on Terror, serving as the eyes and ears of the CIA, as well as provided close air support to ground troops during regular and special operations. Introduced in 2005, the MQ-1B has seen action in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, and various other hotspots around the globe. Besides the United States Air Force, the MQ-1B is also in use by the U.S. Air National Guard.

US Air Force Airman 1st Class Jonathan Steffen


Quiet with a tiny airframe, this medium altitude drone aircraft can get inside enemy airspace stealthily and quickly. The MQ-1B is a remotely piloted aircraft that utilizes the specially designed Multi-Spectral Targeting System, which uses high resolution cameras along with infrared, laser designation, and laser illumination capabilities. It can capture high resolution full color or monochrome footage, as well as stream this footage in real time back to its remote pilot.
The MQ-1B Predator is also portable and can be quickly disassembled and reassembled for transport and deployment. When fully assembled it has a wingspan of 55 feet and a length of 27 feet, standing at just 7 feet tall. It only weighs just over a thousand pounds and can carry almost its own weight in ordnance, equipment, and fuel, with a fuel capacity of 665 pounds and a maximum payload of 450 pounds. The MQ-1B can cruise at 84 mph and reach up to 135 mph on its Rotax 914F four-cylinder engine with a thrust of 115 horsepower. Its flight ceiling is 25,000 feet, with a range of around 770 miles. When loaded for aggression, it is typically equipped with two laser-guided AGM-114 Hellfire missiles.
All of this, besides the ordinance, costs around $20 million dollars. The United States Air Force currently has 150 in their inventory.

See MQ-1B Predator Specifications

Primary FunctionArmed reconnaissance, airborne surveillance, and target acquisition
Contractor: General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc.
Power Plant: Rotax 914F four-cylinder engine
Thrust:115 horsepower
Wingspan: 55 feet (16.8 meters)
Length:27 feet (8.22 meters)
Height: 7 feet (2.1 meters)
Weight: 1,130 pounds ( 512 kilograms) empty
Maximum Takeoff Weight: ,250 pounds (1,020 kilograms)
Fuel Capacity: : 665 pounds (100 gallons)
Payload: 450 pounds (204 kilograms)
Speed: cruise speed around 84 mph (70 knots), up to 135 mph
Range: 770 miles (675 nautical miles)
Ceiling: 25,000 feet (7,620 meters)
Armament: : two laser-guided AGM-114 Hellfire missiles
Crew (remote): two (pilot and also sensor operator)
Unit Cost: $20 million (includes four aircraft with sensors, ground control station and Predator Primary satellite link) (fiscal 2009 dollars)
Initial Operating Capability: : March 2005
Inventory: 150

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