How the Predator UAV Works

        Science | Modern

On The Road
A dissembled Predator loaded into a "coffin" for transport
A dissembled Predator loaded into a "coffin" for transport

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.