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Predator C Avenger gets boost in ISR capabilities

Predator C drone testing with the surveillance capability of a U2-class spy plane.

By Richard Tomkins
The Predator C Avenger by General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc. Photo courtesy GA-ASI
The Predator C Avenger by General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc. Photo courtesy GA-ASI

SAN DIEGO, June 14 (UPI) -- A Predator C Avenger unmanned aerial system has been tested with an advanced electro-optical/infrared sensor for surveillance from significant standoff ranges.

General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc. said the MS-177 sensor from UTC Aerospace Systems is more technically advanced and less expensive than the SYERS 2 flying on U-2 aircraft.

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It is a seven-band multi-spectral system that can be upgraded to a 10-band system to enhance target detection for maritime applications.

"Avenger and MS-177 deliver a game-changing capability that dramatically alters the intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance landscape," said Linden Blue, chief executive officer of GA-ASI. "A MS-177-equipped Avenger provides a strategic ISR capability at a fraction of the cost of other ISR collecting platforms, offering high-resolution imagery from significant standoff ranges, thereby expanding the situational awareness of the warfighter greatly."

During seven government-funded test flights, the Predator C Avenger collected high-resolution imagery of land-based and littoral objects with the MS-177 sensor at altitudes above 37,000 feet above sea level.

GA-ASI said it plans to begin flight testing of an improved Avenger in October which will further enhance the operational capabilities of the MS-177.

The improved Avenger has a longer wingspan -- 76 feet -- and an endurance of 20 hours to give optimal balance of long-loiter ISR and precision-strike capability.

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