Poway-based General Atomics has made a killing – I say that with admiration – by anticipating DoD’s needs, and providing a solution prior to requirements definition. Which kind of turns the entire JCIDS process upside down, but saves an enormous amount of time, keeping in mind that when the federal bureaucracy is involved, time is indeed money.
DoD: We’re kicking around the idea of…
GA: Try this!
DoD: That actually, you know: Works.
Looks like GA has scored another win:
The US Air Force has ordered the General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Predator C Avenger for deployment to Afghanistan. A single aircraft is being procured, marking what may be the type’s first order.
Although termed a test aircraft, the order fulfils an urgent request by secretary of defense Leon Panetta for reconnaissance and strike assets. Several untested aircraft and systems have been purchased or deployed under urgent operational requirements, including the Northrop Grumman MQ-8B Fire Scout currently operating in Afghanistan.
“This aircraft will be used as a test asset and will provide a significantly increased weapons and sensors payload capacity on an aircraft that will be able to fly to targets much more rapidly than the MQ-9 [Reaper] UAS,” the USAF said in an announcement. “Since it has an internal weapons bay and four hardpoints on each wing it will also allow greater flexibility and will accommodate a large selection of next generation sensor and weapons payloads.”
Or if not a win, at least a foot in the door. Which these days…
A turbine-powered, stealthy UAV with greater payload.