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Persistent UAV Platforms

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MQ-1 Predator UAV provides US forces in Iraq and Afghanistan with persistent intelligence and target engagement capability. (Photo: USAF)

Persistent assets are employed to assist ground units and provide real-time, high resolution imagery. Medium Altitude Long Endurance (MALE) platforms, such as the General Atomics Predator, Northrop Grumman/ IAI Hunter and EADS/IAI Eagle operating at medium altitudes, from 15-25,000' are designed to use multiple sensors on a single mission. Usually these assets will support operations in a specific region, Tasked with Imagery Intelligence (IMINT) missions include, round-the clock gathering of electronic and communications intelligence (ELINT/ COMINT), as well as, providing communications support. Since MALE drones are operating at lower altitudes, they transmit more detailed imagery of targets. As a theater asset they are also more responsive for retasking, changing their flight routes to support evolving needs. At their cruising altitude, MALE platforms can evade most adverse weather conditions. Introduction of deicing systems, such as those used on EADS/IAI Eagle-1 and Thales/Elbit Systems WK-450 enable mission planners to launch and retrieve UAVs through adverse weather and icing conditions, which usually hinder UAV activities at lower altitudes.

IIA/EADS Heron (Eagle) shown takeoff at the military anex of Changi airport during Asian Aerospace 2004

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  Updated: 10/25/2005

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