US has cleared the sale of 22 predator Guardian drones to India
Washington,June24:Ahead of PM Narendra Modi’s first meet with the US President Donald Trump, the US has cleared the sale of 22 predator Guardian drones to India. This deal of around $2-3 billion, after approval by the State Department, is being hailed as a ”game changer”. This trade will mark a major step in India-US relations as it would mark the status of “major defence partner”. Check out answers to all the questions you might have about predator drones.
What is a predator drone exactly? The US Air Force’s Predator B or the ‘MQ-9 Reaper’, is a Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA). Powered by a Honeywell TPE331-10 turboprop engine, the aircraft can be used for multiple missions and possesses higher capabilities than its predecessor aircraft. The engine of the aircraft is integrated with Digital Electronic Engine Control (DEEC). It enhances the performance of the engine and increases its capability to prevent wasteful consumption of fuel at lower altitudes.
Top features of the Guardian Drone: The aircraft can be flown for over 27 hours in the air at a maximum altitude of 50000 feet and a maximum speed of 240 KTAS. It has MIL-STD-1760 stores management system and seven external stations for carrying payloads. The maximum payload carrying capacity of the aircraft is 1,746 kg. With a fault tolerant, triple-redundant flight control system, the drone has more than 90 per cent system operational availability.
List of countries that have used the drones in the past: Currently the aircraft is being used by Italian, French and Spanish Air Force apart from several US agencies including US Air Force, US Department of Homeland Security and NASA. UK’s aerial warfare force, Royal Air Force, has also acquired the drones.
What’s new in these drones? The Predator B, over the years, has been modified into Predator B ER. The new model was fitted with retrofit-table capabilities such as wing-borne fuel pods and reinforced landing gear. The new modifications increased the endurance of the carrier from 27 hours to 34 hours. In 2016, another modification with the aircraft’s wingspan saw its endurance go up to 42 hours. To achieve the result, the length of the wingspan was increased to 79 feet from 66 feet so that it can hold the fuel previously stored in the fuel pods
Source: General Atomics Aeronautical