Directory of U.S. Military Rockets and Missiles
Appendix 2: Modern UAVs
Copyright © 2024 Andreas Parsch

General Atomics MQ-20 Avenger

The Avenger UCAV (Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicle), originally known as Predator C, was developed by General Atomics as a private venture. It is the jet-powered successor to the company's Predator B, flown by the USAF as the MQ-9 Reaper.

The Avenger is controlled with the same GCS (Ground Control Station) as earlier Predator drones. It has some stealth characteristics, incl. an internal weapons bay and an S-shaped jet exhaust duct. The gimbal turrent with EO/IR imaging equipment is retractable. The total payload capacity is about 1360 kg (3000 lb), to be carried in the internal bay or six optional underwing hardpoints. Supported are various sensor payloads, as well as guided weapons like GBU-31/32/38 JDAM, GBU-12/49/16/48 Paveway II, the GBU-39/B Small Diameter Bomb, and AGM-114 Hellfire missiles. For target acquistion and tracking, the Avenger can be equipped with an AN/APY-8 Lynx SAR (Synthetic Aperture Radar and a variant of the F-35's EOTS (Electro-Optical Targeting System).

The first flight of the Avenger prototype occurred on 4 April 2009, and until 2013 at least two additional airframes joined GA's Avenger fleet. General Atomics is using the Avenger for various tests and demonstrations of UAV features, incl. integration of new payloads and AI-based autonomous operations.

Photo: USAF
Avenger (MQ-20A)

The U.S. Air Force has acquired one Avenger in 2011, to evaluate it as a possible successor to the MQ-9A Reaper, labeled "MQ-X". However, in the end it was stated that the Avenger didn't offer enough advantages to justify the procurement costs, an the MQ-X effort was officially cancelled in 2012. The USAF's Avenger has since been employed for tests and evaluations of various advanced UAV applications. General Atomics claimed in 2017, that seven examples of the UAV have been purchased by an undisclosed U.S. government customer.

Designation note: In some official reports and training manuals, the Avenger is (or was) referred to as YQ-11. Not only would this be an irregular designation (it lacks a primary mission symbol and a series letter), it would also re-use the Q-11 number of the RQ-11 Raven Small UAV. More recently, both the USAF and General Atomics have openly referred to the Avenger as MQ-20A. Most likely, this is not an officially allocated MDS. While it formally looks like a regular MDS, it would again be a duplicate use of the design number, because the #20 slot in the Q-series is already allocated to the RQ-20 Puma AE UAV.


Note: Data given by several sources show slight variations. Figures given below may therefore be inaccurate!

Data for Avenger (MQ-20A):

Length13 m (44 ft)
Wingspan20 m (66 ft)
Weightmax: 8255 kg (18200 lb)
Speed740 km/h (460 mph)
Ceiling> 15240 m (50000 ft)
Endurance20 h
Propulsion1 Pratt & Whitney PW545B turbofan; 17.8 kN (4000 lb)

Main Sources

[1] General Atomics: Predator C Avenger
[2] Wikipedia: General Atomics MQ-20 Avenger
[3] The War Zone, Joseph Trevithick and Tyler Rogoway: Pocket Force Of Stealthy Avenger Drones May Have Made Returning F-117s To Service Unnecessary

Back to Directory of U.S. Military Rockets and Missiles, Appendix 2

Last Updated: 20 January 2024