The Push for Predators:

They just can’t build ’em fast enough. Predator unmanned aerial systems have turned into true workhorses—amassing some 4,000 hours a month in the Global War on Terror. In July, the total was 4,700 hours. Officials at Aeronautical Systems Center, Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio, say they just accepted the 125th Predator. In 2006, ASC will move into the third production contract for the popular MQ-1 UAS with its persistent, armed capability. Next up is the larger next-generation version—the MQ-9—which ASC says will fly twice as high, twice as fast, and carry four times as many weapons. These will include the GBU-12, EGBU-12, and 500-pound GBU-38 Joint Direct Attack Munition. Don’t expect to see it in the field, though, before 2008.