How the Predator UAV Works
Military commanders use tactics and strategy in combat to inflict as much damage on the enemy while trying to risk as few personnel and resources as possible. This principle was at the heart of the development of the RQ-1 and MQ-1Predator Unmanned Aerial Vehicle. These high-tech aircraft, controlled by a crew miles away from the dangers of combat, are capable of reconnaissance, combat and support roles in the hairiest of battles. In a worst-case scenario, if a Predator is lost in battle, military personal can simply "crack another one out of the box" and have it up in the air shortly -- and that's without the trauma of casualties or prisoners normally associated with an aircraft going down. In this article, we will look at the Predator UAV's flight system, sensors, weapons and crew, and how the military is using Predators to keep personnel safer both in the air and on land.
Under the Hood
The Predator UAV is a medium-altitude, long-range aircraft that operates much like any other small plane. A Rotax 914, four-cylinder, four-stroke, 101-horsepower engine, the same engine type commonly used on snowmobiles, turns the main drive shaft. The drive shaft rotates the Predator's two-blade, variable-pitch pusher propeller. The rear-mounted propeller provides both drive and lift. The remote pilot can alter the pitch of the blades to increase or decrease the altitude of the plane and reach speeds of up to 135 mph (120 kts). There is additional lift provided by the aircraft's 48.7-foot (14.8-meter)wingspan, allowing the Predator to reach altitudes of up to 25,000 feet (7,620 meters). The slenderfuselage and inverted-V tailshelp the aircraft with stability, and a single rudder housed beneath the propeller steers the craft. The fuselage of the Predator is a mixture of carbon and quartz fibers blended in a composite with Kevlar. Underneath the fuselage, the airframe is supported by a Nomex, foam and wood laminate that is pressed together in...
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