Still on Tap

Although the process has been somewhat delayed, the Air Force says it still intends to acquire two prototype unmanned aerial vehicles from General Atomics Aeronautical Systems in the Army’s Sky Warrior configuration for evaluation. These YMQ-1C prototypes are in the same Predator family of UAVs that already serve the Air Force (see above, “No Plans to Divest Predators”). They feature some improvements over current MQ-1 Predators, such as new engines and the ability to carry two Hellfire ground-attack missiles per wing, vice one. Factoring production delays, the Air Force told the Daily Report Oct. 31 that it expects to take delivery of the first prototype unit in November and the second in December. The service would then begin a flight testing program to see how well the MQ-1C variant could meet the Air Force’s needs. (The Air Force’s last projected buy of the current MQ-1 air vehicle configuration is this fiscal year.) The service said it is still determining the length of this evaluation. In addition to these activities, the Air Force said it is pressing forward with the Army in developing a single contract and exploring common components in preparation for a potential joint MQ-1C purchase. The Army plans to buy scores of Sky Warriors. The first of its Sky Warrior prototypes is already in flight testing.