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Predator: The Remote-Control Air War over Iraq and Afghanistan: A Pilot's Story Hardcover – November 12, 2010

4.4 out of 5 stars 32 customer reviews

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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
"...gives 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.



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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Zenith Press; First edition (November 12, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0760338965
  • ISBN-13: 978-0760338964
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.2 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #165,929 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
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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Format: Hardcover
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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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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Format: Hardcover
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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