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Predator: The Remote-Control Air War over Iraq and Afghanistan: A Pilot's Story [Kindle Edition]

Matt J. Martin , Charles W. Sasser
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)

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Book Description

The Nintendo generation has taken to the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan where remotely controlled aircraft are killing America¹s enemies and saving American lives.

Matt J. Martin is considered a "top gun" in the world of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). For nearly four years, he has flown hundreds of missions on two warfronts in a new kind of combat that, until recently, was largely classified Top Secret. He and his fellow Predator pilots have been actively involved in virtually every facet of the War on Terror in Iraq and Afghanistan: tracking Osama bin Laden; capturing top al-Qaeda leader al-Zarqawi; fighting with the U.S. Marines in Fallujah; and rescuing aid workers kidnapped in Afghanistan by the Taliban.

This is Matt J. Martin's story and that of his aircraft, the 27-foot long Predator.

Editorial Reviews


Pacific Flyer

“As for the writing, it's near perfect, flows smoothly and has that certain flair that all of us who type for a living seek to achieve. Best of all, it's a great story, previously untold, by the guy who actually did it."
Air & Space Smithsonian   
"...a fascinating tale of the challenges of flying a touchy, mule-stubborn, expensive robot from half a world away."

Military Heritage
"Be prepared to mentally strap yourself into the pilot's seat while reading this book. The author takes the reader through the streets of Balad, Baghdad, and other trouble areas of Iraq during his tour of duty. There is, however, one major difference. Martin himself was not actually seated in the plan, but flying it remotely, sometimes as far away as Nellis Air Force base in Nevada."

Military Times
" readers an excellent sense of what it feels like to control an MQ-1B."

Midwest Book Review
"Predator offers a fine first-person account of fighting the global wars on terror. Predator missions and personal insights into a program only recently classified as 'secret' make for exciting stories of armed insurgency and urban warfare, bringing a 'you are there' feel to the idea of the Predator - a remotely piloted aircraft (RPA) - as a cold killing machine. No military collection should be without this unique assessment."

Bookviews by Alan Caruba
"Predator tells how this remotely piloted aircraft has had an impact on the modern battlefield. Superb in its ability to provide reconnaissance and to deliver death to the enemy with Hellfire missiles, these aircraft have a crew that are sometimes a half a world away from the missions they’re flying. Lt. Col. Martin provides a first-person account of the fight against global terrorism. It is filled with exciting stories of chasing and attacking armed insurgents in Baghdad or across the desert countryside. Because of the television cameras, the crews experience warfare more closely than traditional bomber crews."

From the Inside Flap

The MQ-1 Predator is a remotely piloted aircraft (RPA) used for forward observation and reconnaissance as well as targeted attacks with its two Hellfire missiles. Frequently referred to as a drone or even a robot in the press, the insectlike craft is sometimes spoken of as though it were an autonomous machine, coldly killing according to its programming. In reality, the RPA has a crew like any other aircraft—except for the fact that the crew is not on board, but safely on the ground and sometimes half a world away from the missions they’re flying.


Predator is Lt. Col. Matt J. Martin's first-person account of fighting the Global War on Terror over Iraq and Afghanistan from the controls of an RPA. From his training in Nevada to being stationed in Iraq—where his base came under attack even if he was "safe" on the ground during Predator missions—Martin provides personal insights into a program that until recently was largely classified secret.


There are exciting stories of chasing and attacking armed insurgents in Baghdad and the desert countryside as well as heart-wrenching accounts of the inevitable collateral damage of urban warfare. Ironically, due to monitors fed by the Predator's targeting camera, even if stationed far away from the action, these crews witness the effects of their attacks far more closely than traditional bomber crews physically present above their targets. Regardless of where the reader stands on the war, the myth of the Predator as a cold killing machine is put to rest through the struggles of the people serving in these remote-controlled battles against insurgents and terrorists.


Product Details

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating Look into Remote-Control Air Warfare! January 17, 2011
Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), also known as Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPAs), have played an increasingly influential role in air warfare. Initially used only for photo recce, UAVs have evolved into armed sentinels, endlessly circling over battlefields until their pilots, usually located half a world away, unleash deadly Hellfire missiles, JDAMs or other munitions. Lieutenant Colonel Matt Martin, a UAV veteran, and Charles Sasser describe the THE REMOTE-CONTROL AIR WAR OVER IRAQ AND AFGHANISTAN in this fascinating Zenith Press release.

Martin, a USAF RC-135 navigator longing to be a pilot, volunteered for UAV training, learning to fly the Predator in 2004. Martin subsequently logged Predator combat missions, helping Coalition forces locate - and terminate - al Qaeda and Taliban bad guys, supported Special Ops missions, etc.. He later commanded the Predator-equipped 46th Expeditionary Reconnaissance Squadron stationed in Iraq.

While other books on UAVs are out there, Martin's book provides an insider's view of how the Predator was developed and transformed over the years and its use in combat along with the mindset and experiences of a Predator pilot. As borne out in Martin's book, Predator missions are not bloodless video games; UAV operators can see quite clearly their targets and what happens to them when a Hellfire hits. Martin presents his experiences against the backdrop of the Gulf Wars, providing some insightful analysis into events past and present in those troubled countries.

In short, PREDATOR 'draws back the drapes' on what was a highly classified part of the Iraq/Afghanistan air war and provides the reader with a glimpse into how air wars will be fought in the future. Recommended.

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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Through the 1990s and 2000s, the world witnessed revolutions in warfare. In the 1990s, the United States Air Force introduced the world to Global Atomic's MQ-1 Predator remotely piloted aircraft (RPA). Also in this war, what went unnoticed was the Air Force's revolution in fighting from a garrison installation. Strike pilots would leave their Italian homes well before sunrise, plan and execute strike missions in the Balkans, and then return home to their families. This new pattern broke the tradition of warriors secluding themselves in a war zone. With this insulation from the families, warriors would be able to use peers as a support group to help deal with the horrors of combat. With these revolutions of the 1990s, the newest generation of Air Force strike pilots has been deprived of that support group. Instead they are faced with a psychological dichotomy of trying to provide a loving, stable family live & dealing with the psychological trauma of death. "Predator: The Remote-control Air War over Iraq and Afghanistan", by Lt Col Matt Martin and Charles Sasser, offers a glimpse into how both of these revolutions of the 1990s have forever changed combat.

The MQ-1 Predator is an incredible new capability for American and allied forces. From this ultimate high ground, commanders can watch or track targets without the slightest hint of the aircraft's presence. Major Martin, one of the Predator pilots, shares insights into how the Predator weapon system supported many of the significant periods of recent Iraqi and Afghan history. His stories range from the humorous to the somber. Yet the common thread through all of his experiences was the life he shared with his wife, Ruby.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting and timely book January 25, 2011
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
The Predator is the signature weapon system of the War On Terror (for our side, the IED being the signature weapon of the enemy). This book is an appealing and interesting first-hand account written by a USAF Predator pilot. The author does a nice job of explaining the odd situation where a Predator pilot kills by remote control and then goes home, picking up some groceries on the way.

While a good book, it has several flaws that prevent it from being an excellent book. At several points in the book, the author provides an overview of the "big picture" in the theater. It's pretty much boilerplate, and presumably the readership of this book will already know something about the war in Iraq and Afghanistan. The book would have greatly benefited from a more detailed description of the Predator weapon system.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
They should change the title of this book. "Predator" is a Patricia Cornwell novel and an Arnold Schwarzenegger movie (neither of which has *anything* to do with the other) and frankly a non-fiction book with the same title is just dumb. How are they going to market it, and get people to buy it? Perhaps a more descriptive title, like "The Predator's War?"

Author Matt Martin is an Air Force officer who wanted to be a pilot, and was thwarted by circumstances. Instead, he contrived to get into the Predator program, learning to fly an MQ-1 Predator, our first generation armed drone. These unmanned aerial vehicles can stay in the air for hours and hours (sometimes as long as a day or 2) and are crammed with various cameras, radars, and other detection devices. They also can carry a pair of Hellfire missiles, destroying tanks and taking out what the military refers to as "point targets."

Martin first flew Predators from Nellis AFB outside Las Vegas Nevada. His missions, controlled from there, were mostly over Iraq or Afghanistan. Later he was sent to Iraq, first to teach a contingent of Italian pilots to fly the early Predators their government had bought from ours, and later working as a Launch-and-Recovery Officer at Balad Air Base near Baghdad. The Predator is launched locally in Iraq, flown to its target area by local controllers, and then control is handed over to the people in Nevada. This is largely because the drones are so far from Nevada that the satellite uplink takes about 2 seconds to transmit commands from Nevada to the Middle East; this is sufficient to control the drone, launch missiles, etc., but it's inadequate to take off and land the aircraft. Anyway, from there the author went back to Nellis and did another bit of duty, before the book ends.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Racist voice, otherwise ok book
Not a bad book all in all, but the author's voice was a little frustrating at times. His voice had some seriously racist things that were just uncalled for.
Published 4 months ago by Christian
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely amazing
Very well written. Gives a highly detailed account of how drone warfare is conducted - and how mind-boggingly tight-controlled it is. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Gernsback
5.0 out of 5 stars A real page turned. Opened my eyes to a ...
A real page turned. Opened my eyes to a new reality in war. Drones!
Published 8 months ago by Just a Guy who loves to read
4.0 out of 5 stars War by Remote Control
This is the future of war. It's an excellent book. Well written and a valuable resource. No, it's not yet totally by remote control. Read more
Published 9 months ago by Patrick Cirillo
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing!
Major Martin is an excellent writer, capable of pulling one into not merely the technology of unmanned warfare, but the heart and head of the new type of warrior and command... Read more
Published 10 months ago by M. League
2.0 out of 5 stars Interesting
An interesting behind the scenes look at how unmanned aerial vehicles are operated. However, it is not a real "page turner."
Published 10 months ago by Joseph Stellmack Jr.
5.0 out of 5 stars Cool read
This was a pretty cool read..... certainly the writer (Major Martin) gives a first-hand account of how Predator drones were flown in Iraq and Afghanistan and how the were used to... Read more
Published 11 months ago by Robbienz
5.0 out of 5 stars A great new enemy fighter
This book is a great look into the new way to fight the enemy from the air. The Predator has become a very good weapon to fight not only the Islamic extremist, but the drug dealer... Read more
Published 12 months ago by Kindle Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars The Major's Not a Drone
Very interesting and competently written autobiographical telling of the author's experience flying UAVs (which morphed into UCAVs - the "C" is for "Combat") during... Read more
Published 12 months ago by P. Weiser
3.0 out of 5 stars If you want a UAV 101/ Iraq conflict history here it is.
Qualities narrative of the authors experience detailing his introduction into UAV's and follows the Iraq wars history while also speaking of Afghanistan from the perspective of a... Read more
Published 12 months ago by Ross W Kronberg
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