(click pic for hi-res) General Atomics MQ-1 Predator
Like it or not, unmanned aircraft are fast becoming a large part of the workforce in the U.S. Military, and you can be sure we're gonna see them showing up in general aviation applications in the future. General Atomics-ASI is the company responsible for the best known aircraft, the MQ-1 Predator. To the casual observer, it's easy to confuse the MQ-1 with their other popular UAV, the MQ-9 Reaper (formerly known as the Predator B), so I figured a quick visual lesson using some big CoolPix images would be a great way to learn their differences. Plus, I've added their logical extension of their UAV program, the jet powered Avenger that's currently in development.
MQ-1 Predator (inverted V-tail): Wingspan about 48 feet, max weight 2,250 pounds; powered by Rotax 914F (115 hp); cruise speed about 100 mph.
2,000+ mile range, 24 hours endurance, service ceiling 25,000 feet. Over 350 built.
(click pic for hi-res) General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper
MQ-9 Reaper (Y-tail): Wingspan about 66 feet, max weight 10,500 pounds; powered by TPE331 turboprop (900 shp); cruise speed about 200 mph.
3,200+ mile range, 14-28 hours endurance, service ceiling 50,000 feet (typical operations at 30,000 feet). Approximately 30 built (exact number unknown).
(click pic for hi-res) General Atomics Avenger UCAV
Avenger (in development): Wingspan about 66 feet, payload 6,000 pounds; powered by Pratt & Whitney PW545B turbofan (4,800 pounds thrust); speeds around 460 mph.
20 hours endurance, service ceiling 50,000 feet. Prototype built and flying, with number two aircraft (slightly larger than prototype) in development. Avenger includes some stealth in the design, and is a combat-oriented aircraft with internal weapons bays.