Build It and They Will Come, Maybe

General Atomics Aeronautical Systems has had a more difficult time generating the same level of interest in its Predator C Avenger jet-powered remotely piloted aircraft over the past few years than when it introduced the Predator B more than a decade ago, said Frank Pace, who heads the company’s Aircraft Systems Group. “It has been different,” said Pace during an interview last week at the 50th Paris Air Show in Le Bourget, France. “It is harder to get it going. There is not a war that really drives the need for this airplane right now,” he said. “Pred’ B worked out perfectly because wars were going on [and] it had such tremendous capability over Predator A. It was a natural,” said Pace. Avenger “is such a nice airplane” and there are already orders for it, but “I don’t think the Predator C will have big sales until there is a need for it,” he said. That day may come with the addition of the SYERS-3 multispectral imagery sensor on the platform, since the Air Force desires “a cost-affordable way to do the Global Hawk mission,” said Pace. Interest might also spike if the company’s HELLADS laser is mated on Avenger, as “that would be a significant game changer,” he said during the June 18 interview.