Information on the Predator can be found at: 

General Atomics Aeronautical Systems (Mojave Desert)

general atomics

Click here for more photographs from the Aeronautical Systems facility.

This Predator was flying north of Indian Springs near Mt. Sterling.

These photos were taken on Oct 11, 2002 from a spot north of Indian Springs. This appears to be the standard Predator (not the B version), as they can be differentiated by the tail design. This Predator carries a missile under each wing and might be the MQ-1, which is an upgrade from the RQ-1.  

The plane made two passes before heading out into the ranges:

Proposed expansion of the Predator program at Indian Springs

Indian Springs released an environmental impact report regarding increasing the size of the fleet and types of Predators. All 220 pages can be found here. Some of the more interesting pages of the report are displayed below. Noteworthy in the report is:

1) Presently three reconnaissance squadrons (RS) are  at Indian Springs. The 11th and 15th RS's have 20 RQ-1's each. while the 17th RS has no assets at present, but would have it's own Predators after the expansion.

2) RQ-1 versions of the Predator will be phased out and replaced with Hellfire or Stinger armed MQ-1 Predators. 

3) The MQ-9 version of the Predator, a higher flying turbo-prop plane, will be added. The MQ-9 will also be armed, though the exacts weapon is not determined yet.

4) The MQ-1 has long wave IR sensors, which might be another way of saying thermal imaging. 

5) Most Predator sorties are flown in R4806W, but could also be in the North range (R4807A and R4809), Desert and Reveille. The Desert and Reveille flights are under visual rules, and the planes may not enter clouds. [This should create a few UFO sightings along highway 6]

6) Predator training also occurs in R2508, ie. Edwards, China Lake, and Fort Irwin.

This map is for "plan A". There are 4 alternatives in the report, but given the remoteness of the site, I really doubt the USAF won't get what they want.


Officials release Predator accident report

10/30/02 - LANGLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Va. (AFPN) -- Air Force investigators have determined that human error caused an Air Force RQ-1 Predator aircraft crash May 17 near a forward-operating location supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.

According to an Air Combat Command accident investigation report released Oct. 30, the incorrect assembly of the "right tail plane control servo" by the manufacturer was the sole cause of the accident.

The Predator, an unmanned reconnaissance aircraft valued at about $3.3 million, was destroyed upon impact. No one was injured in the accident. The aircraft was assigned to the 15th Reconnaissance Squadron at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., and was deployed as part of the 386th Air Expeditionary Group. (Courtesy of ACC News Service)