General Atomics Aeronautical Systems announced the inaugural flight of its second jet-powered Predator C Avenger remotely piloted aircraft. “The first flight of our second Avenger aircraft is a significant achievement as it refines the first prototype design to an operational capability,” said Frank Pace, president of the company’s Aircraft Systems Group. The flight took place at the company’s facility in Palmdale, Calif., in mid January, meeting all performance objectives, according to the company. This airframe, Tail 2, features a fuselage that is four feet longer than the one on the first Avenger aircraft to accommodate larger payloads and fuel. General Atomics has matured Avenger on its own dime, believing that its performance attributes would meet the Air Force’s emerging requirements for a next-generation, multi-mission RPA. The first Avenger aircraft made its maiden flight in April 2009. In December, the Air Force disclosed that it was acquiring an Avenger air vehicle for use as a test asset. The company said production of the third and fourth Avenger air vehicles is underway.
The Air Force isn’t giving up on its long-frustrated efforts to retire older aircraft, as the department’s leader continues to talk with lawmakers about plans to free up funds for its modernization efforts, Undersecretary of the Air Force Gina Ortiz Jones said Nov. 30.