The official US Air Force website describes the Predator as ‘ an armed, multi-mission, medium-altitude, long-endurance remotely piloted aircraft that is employed primarily as an intelligence-collection asset and secondarily against dynamic execution targets’ – that is, for release of weapons.
As a multi-role platform, Predators can perform the following missions and tasks: intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, close air support, combat search and rescue, precision strike, convoy/raid overwatch, route clearance, target development, and terminal air guidance.
The Predator is part of a remotely piloted aircraft system (RPAS). A fully operational system consists of four sensor/weapon-equipped aircraft, ground control station, Predator Primary Satellite Link, and spare equipment, along with operations and maintenance crews.
The USAF MQ-1B Predator fleet was gradually withdrawn by 2018 in favour of the larger and updated MQ-9 Reaper Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV).