The General Atomics Predator XP unmanned aircraft system. Photo courtesy General Atomics

General Atomics Aeronautical Systems in Poway used the venue of an international air show to announce the first flight of a Predator XP, an updated version of the company’s flagship unmanned aircraft system.

The announcement was made at the Farnborough International Air Show in Britain. The flight occurred June 27 at Castle Dome Heliport, located at the U.S. Army’s Yuma Proving Ground in Arizona.

“This first flight represents a major milestone for GA-ASI’s newest product line designed and developed for our international allies worldwide,” said Frank W. Pace, president of GA-ASI aircraft systems. “We are now positioned to restart the Predator production line and proceed directly to full production in anticipation of new customer orders.”

General Atomics made the last delivery of the previous Predator model, the MQ-1, in 2011.

During the 35-minute flight, Predator XP demonstrated its ability to launch, climb to operational altitude, complete basic airworthiness maneuvers, and land without any discrepancies. A subsequent test program will be conducted to verify Predator XP’s design, including safety of flight, automatic takeoff and landing, payload and communications testing, as well as beyond line-of-sight satellite communications control.

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Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.