Predator Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) flies on a simulated Navy aerial reconnaissance flight near the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) off the coast of southern California on Dec. 5, 1995. The Predator provides near, real-time infrared and color video to intelligence analysts and controllers on the ground and the ship. This is the Predator’s first maritime mission with a carrier battle group. The UAV was launched from San Nicholas Island off the coast of southern California. DoD photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Jeffrey S. Viano, U.S. Navy.
DefenseNews appears to be telling us that the AirForce is replacing the MQ-1 Predator with the more capable MQ-9 Reaper.
Does that mean there will be surplus MQ-1s?
We have a need for shore based Unmanned Aircraft to enhance Maritime Domain Awareness. Perhaps surplus Air Force Predators could be an interim step.
If I was the Commandant of the USCG, I would make a move and grab the MQ-1 drones REAL FAST. Having a UAV and post them at Key Air stations would enhance Maritime Domain Awareness, Maritime Security and would be a perfect Command Relay between Cutters and Sectors. The USCG needs to get a serious make some moves on grabbing those MQ-1 drones for USCG use. It will keep the MQ-1 out of allies hands and keep it in the USCG’s hands.
I wouldn’t take them unless funding for a full fledged program could be obtained. The predator program for CPB has been something of a fiasco. Predators are cheap to fly compared to F16’s, but not so cheap compared to Cessnas. The economics are different for the USCG versus DoD.
If it fills a need, and a program could get funding, then it makes a lot of sense to acquire them. But it has to be well thought out and executed.
A tribute to the MQ-1. https://www.airforcetimes.com/opinion/medals-misfires/2018/01/10/medal-thank-you-for-your-service-mq-1-predator/