General Atomics MQ-1B Predator


First flown in 1994, the RQ-1 Predator was developed as a medium altitude, long endurance drone intended for reconnaissance and observation missions.  The high aspect wing, lightweight carbon fiber fuselage, inverted stabilizers and fuel-efficient Rotax engine enabled the Predator to conduct missions of up to 24 hours’ duration from austere bases around the world.

Originally operated as an unarmed drone, the Predator’s payload carrying capability, laser target designator, and exceptional loiter time over areas of interest led to it being adapted to carry missiles under the United States Air Force’s Big Safari project office.  Predators gained the ability to carry AGM-114 Hellfire air-to-surface missiles in 2001, with the first armed combat sorties flown in October 2001.  Redesignated MQ-1 to reflect its new multirole mission, Predators were used in combat across multiple theaters from 2001 through its retirement from USAF service in 2018, when it was replaced in service by the larger and more powerful General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper.   

00-3069, the aircraft exhibited at the Hiller Aviation Museum, is an MQ-1B Predator with a lengthened wingspan and improved functionality.  It was photographed by aviation photographer Andreas Zietler over Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, while participating in the Aviation Nation air show on November 10, 2007.   The aircraft is on loan from the National Museum of the United States Air Force after having been removed from desert storage with the 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group (AMARG) at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson, Arizona. 

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