Tag Archives: General Atomics MQ-1 Predator

Armed U.S. Predator drone appears over Iraq

An MQ-1 Predator drone was filmed near Mosul, Iraq.

Allegedly filmed in the skies over Anbar, south of Mosul, in Iraq, the video below shows what clearly seems to be an MQ-1 Predator.

As some analysts noticed the aircraft appears to be armed with Hellfire missiles, even if the first images are a bit too blurry to say it with certainty. Indeed, the Predator seems to carry at least one AGM-114 on the left hand underwing pylon (the other one is barely visible and could be empty) but it could only be the effect of distortion due to the distance and the drone could also be flying with empty pylons (quite rare, because “pure” reconnaissance missions are usually flown without any pylon and a drone with both empty pylons would mainly point to the event that both missiles have already been fired).

American unmanned aerial systems (UAS) are conducting about 30 – 40 daily reconnaissance missions over Iraq.

 

Video shows Angry Afghan Villagers stoning wreck of U.S. Predator Drone

An American UAS (Unmanned Aerial System) crashes in Afghanistan. Local people stone it.

The following footage made its first appearance on Facebook a couple of days ago.

It allegedly shows what seems to be a group of Afghans stoning the wreck of a (most probably American) MQ-1 Predator drone, while other people cheer and laugh.

It’s almost impossible to determine why, when and where the unmanned aircraft crashed. Still, what can be said is that U.S. drones involved in overseas clandestine missions (in Afghanistan or Iran – do you remember the stealth RQ-170 Sentinel captured by Iran?) don’t carry any marking, serial, roundel etc.

 



H/T to Gian Luca Onnis for the heads-up

 

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[Photo] Iranian F-4 Phantom (as one of those taunted by a U.S. F-22 Raptor in a Top Gun-like encounter)

The following image depics an Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force (IRIAF) F-4E Phantom landing at Tehran – Mehrabad International airport at the end of its test flight over overhaul activity conducted at the local Mehrabad center.

Noteworthy, the image was taken in March 2013, hence in the same days of the weird, Top Gun-like intercept of two F-4s that were getting a bit too close to an American MQ-1 Predator drone flying an intelligence gathering mission in international airspace some 16 miles off Iran: as already reported, Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh explained that an F-22 stealth fighter escorting the UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) silently flew next to the two Iranian Phantoms, checked their armament, popped up on their left wing and then radioed: “you really ought to go home!”

Something like the famous “Watch the birdie” of Goose and Maverick in Top Gun.

Reportedly, F-4E Phantoms of the IRIAF (multi-role aircraft mainly focused on the air-to-surface role), armed with AIM-9Ps and AIM-7E air-to-air missiles fly routine patrol flights over the Persian Gulf.

Image credit: Babak Taghvaee

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U.S. F-22 stealth fighter pilot taunted Iranian F-4 Phantom combat planes over the Persian Gulf

Earlier this year, Pentagon Press Secretary George Little, said that an IRIAF (Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force) F-4 Phantom combat plane attempted to intercept a U.S. MQ-1 drone flying in international airspace off Iran.

As we reported back then, one of the two F-4 Phantom jets came to about 16 miles from the UAV but broke off pursuit after they were broadcast a warning message by two American planes escorting the Predator.

The episode happened in March 2013, few months after a two Sukhoi Su-25 attack planes operated by the Pasdaran (informal name of the IRGC – the Army of the Guardians of the Islamic Revolution) attempted to shoot down an American MQ-1 flying a routine surveillance flight in international airspace some 16 miles off Iran, the interception of the unmanned aircraft failed. After this attempted interception the Pentagon decided to escort the drones involved in ISR (intelligence surveillance reconnaissance)  missions with fighter jets (either F-18 Hornets with the CVW 9 embarked on the USS John C. Stennis whose Carrier Strike Group is currently in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility or F-22 Raptors like those deployed to Al Dhafra in the UAE.

New details about the episode were recently disclosed by Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh who on Sept. 17 not only confirmed that the fighter jets providing HVAAE (High Value Air Asset Escort) were F-22 stealth fighters but also said that:

“He [the Raptor pilot] flew under their aircraft [the F-4s] to check out their weapons load without them knowing that he was there, and then pulled up on their left wing and then called them and said ‘you really ought to go home’”

If the episode went exactly as Welsh described it, it was something more similar to Maverick’s close encouter with Russian Mig-28s in Top Gun movie than a standard interception.

It would be interesting to know how the Raptor managed to remain stealth (did they use their radar? were they vectored by an AWACS? etc.) and why it was not the E-2 most probably providing Airborne Early Warning in the area to broadcast the message to persuade the F-4 to pursuit the drone before the Iranian Phantoms and the U.S. Raptors got too close in a potentially dangerous and tense situation?

Anyway the U.S. pilot achieved to scare the Iranian pilots off and save the drone. A happy ending worthy of an action movie.

Image credit: U.S. Air Force

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Why has Washington acknowledged loss of unknown drone in Somalia but has not admitted Predator crash in Turkey?

As already explained, on May 29 Pentagon acknowledged the loss of a scarcely known Camcopter drone in Somalia whose debris had been collected and shown all around the world by the Al-Shabaab group.

Interestingly, the mysterious drone was identified as a Schiebel Camcopter S-100 a tiny helicopter drone whose maximum take off weight is 200 kg.

It is at least odd, that Washington admitted the loss as the UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) was not known (at least publicly) to be operated by any U.S. force or agency. Unless the drone carried some unit markings or national roundel, it is quite unlikely that anybody could tie the small drone crashed in Somalia with an American asset.

Unless they are forced to do that (as happened when the stealthy RQ-170 Sentinel drone was captured by Iran in December 2011), the DoD is rarely willing to disclose its involvement in overseas clandestine missions.

Schiebel_CAMCOPTER_S-100

Image credit: Wiki

For instance, neither Pentagon nor U.S. Air Force have ever admitted the downing of a Predator by the Kurdish rebels.

As we reported back then, pictures of the wreckage of a U.S. Air Force MQ-1 Predator emerged on Sept. 19, 2012. The drone was allegedly shot down by the rebels on Sept. 18, in the Hakkari prefecture, where the drone was flying  an operation against the rebel bastion of Uludere.

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The MQ-1 was part of a force of four U.S. Predator UAVs deployed to Incirlik airbase, in southern Turkey (one of the airports used to launch drone surveillance missions over Syria).

Months later, the Air Force released an accident report about an MQ-1B Predator crashed in a U.S. Central Command area of responsibility shortly after losing its satellite data link  on Sept. 18, 2012.

The report did not say that the drone was shot down (because either it was not downed or the fact it was lost to enemy fire could not be confirmed) nor mentioned that it was lost in Turkey (exact location was withheld and replaced by the generic U.S. CENTCOM area of responsibility).

Isn’t this different approach on the two episodes a bit strange?

The fact that Predators were deployed in Turkey and were (and probably still are) flying surveillance missions over Kurdish rebels was not a secret. Still, they did not officially acknowledge that an MQ-1 crashed in Turkey.

A scarcely know Camcopter drone crashes in Somalia and they immediately tell the world that it was an American one.

Why did they disclose the Somalia crash and not the Turkish one?

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