By Chris King •
Updated: 07 Feb 2023 • 21:01
Image of a Predator B drone at Lanzarote Aerodrome.
Credit: Spanish Air and Space Army.
Spain’s Air and Space Army confirmed on Monday, February 7, that it will equip its four Predator B drones with bombs and missiles. These remotely manned systems are currently in service with the 233 Squadron at the Talavera la Real air base in Badajoz.
According to the Revista de Aeronautica y Astronautica, an official publication of the Air Force, efforts will begin to arm these drones, which have been operational since the beginning of 2021, as reported by larazon.es.
These aircraft are initially configured for intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) missions, but the system developed by the US company General Atomics can also carry missiles and conduct operations to attack ground targets.
As Infodefensa.com published, for the use of weapons, it would only be necessary to update the software at the ground control station (GCS), where the device is controlled from. Other hardware would need to be installed to use the weapons, basically, the pylons, bomb racks and the specific components of each weapon.
It decided in 2015 to acquire four unarmed Predators. The contract was approved at the end of that year by the Council of Ministers with a budget of €216 million. Since then, the debate on the need to arm these RPAS has been recurrent.
The Spanish Air Force will study the deployment of its Predators for the first time in operations this year, said the aforementioned publication. This is likely to occur as part of the European Union’s anti-piracy operation in the Indian Ocean, where Spain has had a P.3 maritime patrol aircraft permanently deployed in Djibouti.
After decommissioning the last P.3 – precisely the one that was in the Horn of Africa – the Air Force reportedly plans the occasional deployment of a CN235 (D.4) for maritime surveillance and will also analyse the options of participating with the Predator throughout 2023.
In October 2022, the Predator B system reached the so-called Initial Operating Capability (IOC), after a deployment at the Lanzarate aerodrome – its secondary base of operations – during the Sirio exercise.
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Originally from Wales, Chris spent years on the Costa del Sol before moving to the Algarve where he is a web reporter for The Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news.
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