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Persistent UAV Platforms (Cont.)

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Some MALE platforms have evolved into armed Hunter-Killer platforms. Representing this trend is the USAF Predator B system. As a Hunter Killer platform these systems integrate on board everything required to detect, identify, localize, designate and strike a target. These elements include wide area covering radar and narrow-field of view EO/IR sensors covering wide area, with the capability to "Spot" on a specific target for closer identification.

These sensors are used for target detection, identification and tracking. Some system elements are employed at the ground segment, particularly image processing and automation. Such process can detect suspicious traces leading the operators to a potential target. The platform also has designation means, including laser designator and geo-location capability, which can be fed to an on-board weapon.

When deployed in the hunter-killer role, Predator B maintains a low profile at high altitude, orbiting and striking targets from relatively long distance, few minutes after they are detected. Use of low signature weapons, such as JDAM, laser guided bombs or Viper Strike means that the UAV can attack without emitting a visual flash or smoke "puffs" missile launch signatures.
Airmen taxi an MQ-1 Predator unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) armed with two Hellfire missiles, prior to takeoff from BALAD AIR BASE, Iraq. The aircraft provides intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance and strike capability. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Colleen Wronek)

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  Updated: 08/16/2006

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