SHAH ALAM: At the recent IDEX 2011 show it was announced an export version of the Predator UAV or UCAS in US parlance, is now available for non-Nato countries. The US decision to block the export of the Predator or its much more capable Reaper has led to various countries to turn to the Israel for MALE UAVs.
From the release, I have no idea how the export version of the UAV now called the Predator XP is different from the US or Nato versions. Perhaps they had fixed the wings so it cannot be wired for guided bombs or missiles retrospectively.
Excerpt from the GA-ASI statement at IDEX
Due to U.S. Government export restrictions, sales of all GA-ASI UAS had been limited to the U.S.Government, NATO, and other select allied nations. However, GA-ASI has recently expanded its aircraft portfolio to offer an export version of its flagship Predator UAS, Predator XP. Offering comparable ISR capabilities as Predator, Predator XP has been licensed by the U.S. Government to be proposed for sale to a broader customer base, including countries in the Middle East and North Africa.
Predator XP exhibits the same physical dimensions, altitude, speed, and long endurance (up to 40 hours) as the original “RQ-1” Predator aircraft first flown by the U.S. Air Force.
Battle-proven since its first combat flight in the Balkans in 1995, Predator aircraft have amassed over one million flight hours to date. Predator XP is equipped with the same ISR capabilities employed on the RQ-1. The aircraft may be integrated with multiple exportable sensors, including state-of-the-art Electro-Optical Infrared (EO/IR) cameras and GA-ASI’s Lynx® Multi-mode Radar.
Since we are short of sensors and the much more capable, Predator XP is suddenly available, I sincerely hope that there is enough money in RMK10 to buy at least 10 of the UAVs. Five to be based in Subang and another 5 in Labuan. The control centre could be based in Subang while a small operational detachment could prepare the Predator for flight operations in Labuan.
Since the Predators depending on versions, cost between US$3 million to US$6 million, the procurement package should not cost more than RM320 million , the cost of a single Super Hornet. The RM320 million is inclusive of the air vehicles, command and control centre, training, 10 year support costs and payment for the satellite usage for at least five years.
Video at Howstuff Works.
With 10 Predator XP we will within two years boost our ISR capabilities more than 50 per cent or even higher. We will have more eyes in the skies than shooters. To me its a wonderful conundrum. We are already short of shooters anyway and those available lack the precise information they need to perform their job effectively.
And what should we do the Aludra? Since we have spent a lot money and effort on it, we should not throw it away of course. We should turned it into a UCAV since no one will sell us one. Yes, the Israelis will happily sell us the Harpy but thats out of the question.
Just make sure that its endurance its boosted to 10 hours from the present four or five hours and it has the capability to carry a 500 kg bomb.
A win-win situation I believe. Unless someone thinks the little money we have be spent on other things..,,,
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