General Atomics Aeronautical Systems has announced that its Type-Certifiable Predator B (TCPB) variant completed its first flight test at the company's Gray Butte Flight Operations Facility near Palmdale, Calif., on 17th November.
CEO Linden Blue noted that the CPB is the first RPA system of its kind to be compliant with an international type-certification standard, making it more easy to integrate into civil airspace operations around the world.
Qualification testing for type certification will continue over the next two years, with deliveries to the UK RAF expected to begin in late 2018. To facilitate qualification testing, GA-ASI is building three company-owned aircraft, along with two airframes designed specifically for full-scale fatigue and static testing.
GA-ASI began its internally-funded development effort to modify Predator B in 2012. The type-certifiable aircraft is fully compliant with NATO's UAV System Airworthiness Requirements (defined in STANAG 4671) and the related UK DEFSTAN 00-970. TCPB will be offered in several configurations, including an unweaponized maritime patrol variant to support open-ocean and littoral surface surveillance for border patrol, coast guard, and disaster relief missions.
The UK is looking to acquire up to 26 Certifiable Predator B aircraft.