AFA’s Mitchell Institute for Airpower Studies has released Predator’s Big Safari (caution, large-sized file), a paper that charts the vision and creativity that ultimately transformed the Predator remotely piloted aircraft from “an ISR platform of limited utility into a revolutionary weapon.” In 2000, the Air Force’s Big Safari rapid acquisition office undertook a developmental project to arm the then-designated RQ-1 reconnaissance platform. The armed Predator “was conceived and developed solely by the Air Force and primarily because of the vision of one Air Force leader”—retired Gen. John Jumper, writes Richard Whittle, who authored the paper. Jumper led Air Combat Command and was later Chief of Staff during this period. “Technologically, this is an Air Force success story, despite inaccurate assertions published elsewhere,” asserts Whittle.
U.S. Air Force F-35s and F-22s regularly deploy deep into the Pacific region from Alaska, Utah, and Hawaii. In the future, though, the head of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command would like to see the Air Force permanently station fifth-generation aircraft west of the international date line—closer to China.