Hunter is a large unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) first introduced by the U.S. Army in 1996 in limited numbers. The system has excelled in supporting coalition operations in Kosovo, where real-time imagery and communications have proven critical.
The system was developed in Israel and used by government forces in the United States of America, Belgium and France.
The Hunter design has a pronounced twin boom arrangement and straight sides that make it look very similar to the Vietnam-era Rockwell OV-10 Bronco two-person aircraft introduced decades ago (interesting correlation as the two share the same the type part of the operation). Another unique design element is the use of two engines, one mounted to the front of the fuselage and the other to the rear of the fuselage, operating in a "push-pull" environment, reminiscent of some of the failed WWII aircraft designs.
The wing adopts a straight monoplane design and is installed in the middle of the rear of the fuselage. The double boom is attached to the horizontal at the rear and has two vertical tails. The landing gear is static.
Hunter was born in the late 1980s from the U.S. Armys Joint Drone Program, which also included the Joint Navy and Naval Branches.
TRW and Israel Aerospace Industries participated in the limited operational units they designed and produced for operational development, starting with the initial delivery of about seven systems. Like all early UAS, Hunter was originally introduced as an observation/reconnaissance platform, providing real-time imagery, targeting, artillery customization and general surveillance on the modern battlefield.
Only later developments in UAVs can provide offensive weapons and improve the capabilities of UAS in general.
The relatively small and solidly constructed Hunter can operate on fully or semi-paved surfaces. Rocket Assist (RATO) can enhance its short takeoff and landing capabilities if desired. Standard power comes from two 60-horsepower Moto Guzzi engines.
Landing can also be supported by using safety ropes. Hunter UAV capabilities include integrated global positioning system (GPS), forward looking infrared FLIR, laser pointer, VHF/UHF communications and electronic countermeasures.
Operated from a ground-based GCS-3000 Ground Control Station (GCS), the vehicle is operated by two operators - one controls the flight and the other controls the payload function. The Remote Video Terminal (RVT) can operate independently of the GCS or with it via a direct connection.
The "extended" Hunter UAV is nothing more than a longer, high-altitude endurance version of the original Hunter UAV concept. The Extended Hunter can travel through the atmosphere at altitudes of up to 20,000 feet, has twice the wingspan of the original Hunter, and has improved range. The B-Hunter has an automatic landing system. Operated by Belgium, six aircraft and two stations were purchased in 1998. Hunter systems were deployed in Macedonia/Kosovo, and one system was reportedly destroyed by enemy fire within days of deployment.
While the Hunter drone has limited service on today's advancing battlefield, it was most recently deployed in 2004 to patrol the southern U.S. border with Mexico.
- Reconnaissance (RECCE)
5.58 ft (1.7 m)
127 mph (204 km/h; 110 knots)
15,000 ft (4,572 m; 2.84 mi)
162 miles (260 km; 140 nmi)
Up to 200 lb payload including observation, communications and countermeasure equipment.
1 x GBU-44/B Viper Strike Ammo (MQ-5A/B)
Hunter - original drone design
Extended Hunter - Larger size and capabilities than the original Hunter design.
RQ-5A - U.S. military drone designation
B-Hunter - Belgian fighter drone built by IAI; Integrated Automatic Takeoff and Landing System (ATLND).
MQ-5A/B - Armed version with Northrop Grumman GBU-44/B "Viper Assault" ammunition.