Recently, the second and larger General Atomics Predator C, otherwise known as the Avenger, took its first flight. Meanwhile it’s little brother, the first and slightly less capable Avenger, is getting baptized by fire over in Afghanistan. I have a strong feeling that this aircraft, once tested, will become the “Swiss Army Knife” of UAVs for the DoD. They packed all the great things we have come to love about the MQ-1/9 series in a faster, much stealthier, and harder hitting package. When you think about it, eventually what can’t this weapon system do? It’s potential is great and broad. Reconnaissance, close air support, surveillance over denied territory, strike, and eventually I have no doubt that sea control, network relay and possibly even air to air capabilities will be added to its already impressive mission list. Why fly F-16’s that need gas every 45 minutes to provide rear quarter defensive counter air operations over a forward operating base located shallowly behind the front lines when you can just park a pair of Avengers up there loaded with AMRAAMs for the better part of a day?
When it comes to UAVs and combat oriented unmanned platforms there appears to be no weapon system more logical and exciting than the General Atomics Avenger. It’s capabilities come at a reasonable cost and it has an all star pedigree behind it that will no doubt make it the next logical step in unmanned air combat for US forces and beyond.
Plus the Avenger bears an uncanny resemblance to the Northrop Tacit Blue, an aircraft that you could very well call the Avenger’s great grandfather!