UAE Wants Predator Export Model

The United Arab Emirates intends to buy five Predator XP remotely piloted aircraft, the export-approved version of General Atomics Aeronautical Systems’ Predator A model, said Frank Pace, president of the company’s Aircraft Systems Group. “We just signed a deal recently with UAE and we are going to have the first test aircraft done probably about the end of the year,” Pace told the Daily Report in Le Bourget, France, last week at the 50th Paris Air Show. “We don’t officially have a contract until it is approved by the State Department,” he noted. The Middle East nation would be the first announced customer to procure this variant. Unlike the A model, Predator XP does not feature wing hardpoints to carry weapons; it has triple-redundant avionics, among its enhancements, said Pace. The company will assemble the Predator XPs in its facility in Rancho Bernardo, Calif., he said. Although Predator A production wound up about several years ago, starting the XP line will be a “pretty smooth” process, he said. The company thinks there’s a market for between 30 and 200 Predator XPs, with countries like Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and South Korea reportedly interested, he said during the June 18 interview.