General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA-ASI) has announced that its Predator® B/MQ-9 Reaper® RPA fleet has achieved a historic milestone of one million cumulative flight hours, with almost 90-percent of all missions flown in combat.
Additionally, GA-ASI announced that its Predator/Gray Eagle®-series aircraft family set a company record and historic industry feat in 2014: over 500,000 flight hours flown, which is the equivalent of flying 1,370 hours around-the-clock every day.
“GA-ASI works diligently to deliver solutions to meet our customers’ requirements and these two achievements wouldn’t be possible without the dedication and commitment of our employees,” said Frank W. Pace, president, Aircraft Systems, GA-ASI. “These records are a testament to the reliability and durability, as well as the remarkable operational flexibility, of GA-ASI’s RPA family.”
Predator B achieved this record on February 20 after flying 78,606 sorties. Its first flight occurred at GA-ASI’s Gray Butte Flight Operations Facility in Palmdale, Calif. on February 2, 2001. Predator B flight hours now account for approximately one-third of GA-ASI’s 3.2 million total flight hours and are increasing at an average rate of over 22,000 hours a month.
Predator B aircraft are currently logging over 700 hours a day supporting the U.S. Air Force, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, NASA, the Italian Air Force, the Royal Air Force, the French Air Force, and other customers. Missions include direct support to warfighters in world hot spots; assisting border agents in monitoring the nation’s borders; aiding first responders in the wake of natural disasters; and supporting scientists in performing Earth science missions. GA-ASI has delivered more than 230 Predator B aircraft to date and is currently building three aircraft per month, with the capacity to more than double production if needed.
GA-ASI RPA flight hours continue to increase exponentially each year. The aircraft family logged one million flight hours between 1994 and 2010. It later accrued an additional two million flight hours between 2010 and 2014, bringing the total to over three million hours flown.