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DEVELOPER OF UNMANNED SPY PLANE GETS AWARD.

Byline: Daily News

General Atomics Aeronautical Systems received the Smithsonian Institution's Air and Space Museum Current Achievement Trophy for the development of the Predator unmanned spy plane.

General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc., received the trophy - a miniature version of ``The Web of Space'' by sculptor John Safer - at a Nov. 14 ceremony at the Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C.

The trophy is on display at the museum. President and Chief Executive Officer Thomas J. Cassidy Jr. accepted the award.

Established in 1985, the award recognizes outstanding achievement in scientific or technological endeavors relating to air and space technology and exploration.

Predator is controlled by operators on the ground. The aircraft, modified to carry the Hellfire air-to-surface missile, was the first unmanned aircraft to fire offensive weapons against enemy forces

General Atomics Aeronautical Systems produced the Predator for the U.S. Air Force and the Italian Air Force. The aircraft are built in San Diego County and tested in the Antelope Valley.

``We developed the original Predator in name only back in 1988. Little did we know that the original Predator name would evolve to what it is today - an essential contributor to our national defense and war on terrorism,'' Cassidy said during the award ceremony.

``The future is now for the UAV industry but only because Predators are the systems that have made it happen from numerous locations worldwide.''

The museum's announcement of the award said the significance of unmanned aerial vehicles is not yet fully understood or appreciated.

In the past, obtaining reconnaissance information over enemy territory was extremely risky, the museum said. Loitering above combat zones has traditionally held even greater risks for the pilot and crew.

``Predator's reliability and capability have allowed the relocation of the operators to safe locations,'' the museum announcement said.

``Development of the Predator and its follow-on system, the prop jet- powered Predator-B, are finally achieving a goal set more than 50 years ago to save lives by removing aviators from immediate danger over enemy targets,'' the museum announcement said.
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Nov 27, 2002
Words:340
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