General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA‑ASI) has announced that its Predator-series family of aircraft, including MQ-1 Predator, MQ-9 Reaper, and MQ-1C Gray Eagle, has achieved an industry milestone of four million flight hours. The milestone was crossed with 291,331 total missions completed and 90% of all missions flown in combat.
“Amassing four million flight hours is a testament to the reliability of RPA systems that are designed, built, and maintained by a dedicated group of skilled and innovative professionals,” said Linden Blue, CEO, GA-ASI. “We are proud of our fleet’s contributions in providing round-the-clock ISR capabilities for our customers worldwide.”
The identification of the specific aircraft and customer that achieved the milestone is unknown as every second of every day, an average of 70 Predator-class aircraft are airborne worldwide. On August 7th, 79 GA-ASI manufactured aircraft were airborne when the four millionth flight hour was flown. Flight hours have continued to grow at unprecedented rates in recent years, with 500,000 flight hours achieved from 1993 to 2008, one million hours in 2010, two million hours in 2012, and three million hours in 2014.
“The demand for persistent situational awareness using GA-ASI RPA is demonstrated daily through the increasing accumulation of flight hours. This demand is consistently answered by our team of employees, suppliers, and partners who work hard to meet our customers’ dynamic mission requirements,” said David R. Alexander, president, Aircraft Systems, GA-ASI.
Recently GA-ASI’s Predator B/MQ-9 Reaper fleet passed its own milestone, achieving one-and-a-half million flight hours on August 24th, after flying approximately 111,773 total sorties. Predator B/MQ-9 Reaper flight hours now account for approximately one-third of GA-ASI’s four million total flight hours and are increasing at an average rate of 32,000 hours a month.
GA-ASI aircraft are logging nearly 45,000 hours per month supporting the U.S. Air Force, U.S. Army, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, NASA, the Italian Air Force, the Royal Air Force, the French Air Force, and other customers. Missions include helping protect ground units on the battlefield; supporting U.S. Customs & Border Protection operations, and first responders in the wake of natural disasters.