Pleasant Surprise

Lots of jaws dropped at the Missile Defense Agency when officials there realized that the MQ-1 Predator remotely piloted aircraft is inherently potent for detecting and tracking ballistic missiles in flight, according to the agency’s director. “We literally were shocked when we found out the capabilities of the Predator for missile defense,” Army Lt. Gen. Patrick O’Reilly, MDA boss, told defense reporters Tuesday in Washington, D.C. With the Predator’s existing sensor suite, O’Reilly said, “You can be well over a thousand kilometers away and you have got a very good track of a missile.” Predators could play an important role in augmenting the nation’s missile defense sensors in tracking clusters of incoming ballistic missiles, a scenario that is of growing concern, he said. Predators carry optical and infrared cameras that generate full-motion video. MDA already includes Predators in many of its tests, said O’Reilly.