by Jeanne Dailey
Air Force Research Laboratory
4/22/2015 - KIRTLAND AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. -- The
Air Force Research Laboratory's Surrogate Predator program has given
the warfighter a way to train in the U.S. before deploying overseas.
AFRL's Directed Energy Directorate at Kirtland modified a Civil Air
Patrol Cessna 182 aircraft to be used for military training exercises.
The Surrogate Predator has intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance
sensors that provide the capability to mimic a Predator unmanned aerial
CAP is the official auxiliary of the Air Force with 60,000 members
nationwide, who operate a fleet of 550 aircraft. CAP members perform
about 85 percent of continental U.S. inland search and rescue missions,
as tasked by the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center, which credits CAP
with saving an average of 70 lives each year.
CAP members also perform homeland security, disaster relief and drug
interdiction missions at the request of federal, state and local
AFRL, which has been part of the Surrogate Predator program since 2008,
recently completed and delivered the Enhanced Surrogate Predator 3 to
CAP, according to program manager J. P. Sena.
"The Enhanced Surrogate Predator 3 is a redesign of the first two
surrogate predators, which had a wing-mounted turret," Sena said. "We
designed the Cessna 206T with a retractable turret stowed in the belly
of the aircraft that allows for longer flight times by reducing drag
when the turret is not in operation. The operator station was also
designed with ergonomics in mind to allow for more leg room, ease of
controls, central location for all the equipment and a plethora of
capabilities for the sensor operator."
The Surrogate Predator is used in green flag exercises, where the Air
Force and its allied air forces engage in air-land integration combat
"With the use of the Surrogate Predator during green flag exercises,
troops training for deployment get experience with what they will see
overseas while the government can keep the high-value assets overseas to
continue to complete missions," said Sena. "Our government saves
millions by keeping the assets in theater and completing training using
the Surrogate Predators."
In addition to its use as a military training aircraft, CAP has used the
Surrogate Predators 1 and 2 in relief efforts for disasters such as
Hurricane Sandy in 2012.
Kirtland is home to three CAP squadrons.
"The capabilities of the Enhanced Surrogate Predator will far exceed the
previous two and I'm sure will be used in countless other ways to
support the CAP mission, as well as the U.S. government," Sena said.