On The Road
One of the greatest things about the Predator system is that the whole thing is fully transportable. The aircraft breaks down into six pieces that are transported in a huge crate called the coffin. The coffin contains:
- The fuselage
- Tail surfaces
- Landing gear
- The propulsion system
- Two payload/avionics bays
The largest component in the system is the GCS. The GCS has wheels that allow it to be rolled onto transports. The Predator primary satellite link consists of a 20-foot (6.1-meter) satellite dish and support equipment. This can also be broken down. The coffin, GCS, and satellite link all fit in the cargo hold of a C-130 Hercules or C-141 Starlifter. This is how they are moved around from mission to mission. Once on site, a single Predator can be reassembled by a crew of four in under eight hours.
The flexibility and ease of transport designed into the system allows personnel to rapidly deploy an entire four-aircraft Predator system anywhere in the world. Currently, the 11th and 15th Reconnaissance Squadrons, Indian Springs Air Force Auxiliary Field, oversee all Predator operations.