How the Predator UAV Works

A dissembled Predator loaded into a "coffin" for transport

© 2003 General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc.

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
  • Wings
  • 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.