The General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc (GA-ASI)
Predator-series of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) has surpassed one
million flight hours, the company announced on 6 April.
The milestone encompasses just under 80,000 missions, over 85 per cent of which have been flown in combat.
According to GA-ASI, the identity of the specific aircraft and
operator that achieved the milestone will not be known until mid-May
due to delayed flight hours reporting from the field.
Predator-series UAVs are in constant daily operations supporting the
US Air Force (USAF), US Army, US Navy (USN), US Department of Homeland
Security, NASA, the Italian Air Force (Aeronautica Militare Italiana –
AMI), the UK Royal Air Force (RAF) and other customers.
Over 400 aircraft have been produced since the first Predator took
flight in 1994, including RQ/MQ-1 Predator A, I-GNAT ER/Sky Warrior
Alpha, MQ-9 Reaper (Predator B), MQ-1C Sky Warrior and Predator C
Avenger aircraft, among others.
Predator-series flight hours have increased in recent years from
80,000 hours in 2006 to 130,000 hours in 2007, 235,000 hours in 2008
and 295,000 hours in 2009. The one million flight hours milestone comes
less than a month after the USAF announced that it had surpassed
700,000 flight hours for the MQ-1B Predator.