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The Italian Air Force’s 32nd wing has successfully completed the first sortie of the remote controlled Predator unmanned aerial system (UAS) in support of the EU Naval Force’s Operation Atalanta.

As part of the programme, the Italian Predator team, based in Djibouti, executed 11-hour check flight trials in a bid to demonstrate its capability to execute long-range surveillance and reconnaissance patrolling missions.

The unmanned aircraft will be deployed to monitor the seas off the coast of Somalia, in a bid to thwart piracy activities.

Together with warships and maritime patrol and reconnaissance aircraft, the EU naval force will also deploy the remote-controlled aircraft to keep an eye on the safety of World Food Programme vessels as they pass through the Indian Ocean.

The Italian Air Force’s Predator B UAS is a long-endurance, medium-high-altitude RPA designed for surveillance, military reconnaissance and targeting, and close air support missions over land or sea.

Powered by a single Honeywell turboprop engine, the aircraft can stay airborne for up to 27 hours at 50,000ft altitude.

The multi-mission system is also operated by the US Air Force and the UK Royal Air Force (Raf) as MQ-9 Reaper and with the Italian Air Force as MQ-9.


Image: Italian Air Force carried out an 11 hour check test flight of Predator remote controlled aircraft. Photo: courtesy of eunavfor.

Defence Technology