Fun x 4 per joystick

Predators fly first four-ship sorties

Manpower crunch?

The latest upgrade to the MQ-1 Predator, known as the Multi-Aircraft Control, or MAC system, entered operational testing with the first two-ship and four-ship Predator sorties being flown over a four-day period.

Testers performed two-ship sorties Sept. 12 and 13 and progressed to four-ship sorties Sept. 14 and 15.

During these sorties, members from the 53rd Test and Evaluation Group, Detachment 4, tested the MAC ground control station on its ability to enable a single pilot to simultaneously control four Predator aircraft over the skies of southern Nevada.

As the capabilities and endurance of UAVs improves, things are really going to change. A small detachment will be able to operate a full squadron of surveillance and combat support birds from the safety of a bunker or college dorm on the next continent.

The system allows one pilot to actively engage a target, while three other Predators are flying nearby on standby status. While one pilot controls all four Predators, sensor operators assigned to each Predator are able to collect data using the sensor ball, located on the front of the aircraft, Colonel Tanner said.

Operators from the 53rd Wing at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., and 57th Wing at Nellis AFB, Nev., will conduct operational test missions with the MAC system during the next few months in order to evaluate the new two- and four-ship Predator mission capabilities.

UPDATE: Video of Hellfire strike from Predator at Stratepy Page.