MQ-9 Airframe Reaches 20,000 Flight Hours

An MQ-9 Reaper remotely piloted aircraft last month reached 20,000 flight hours, the highest flight time of any of the 230 airframes of this type that have flown since 2001, announced manufacturer General Atomics Aeronautical Systems. The MQ-9 is also known in some circles as the Predator B. The airplane hit the milestone on Dec. 23 during a 17-hour combat mission over Afghanistan, according to the company’s Jan. 12 release. “Accumulating 20,000 hours on a lone Predator B airframe is a major engineering milestone that can be traced back to our talented and resourceful [company] engineering team, which continues to develop highly resilient, reliable, and affordable platforms that continue to keep warfighters safe every day overseas,” said Linden Blue, the company’s chief executive officer. The record-breaking aircraft’s inaugural flight was on Jan. 31, 2008; this airframe has completed 1,355 flights, with nearly all of them supporting overseas contingency operations, according to the company. The Air Force operates MQ-9s, as do the Royal Air Force, French air force, and Italian air force, for roles including information-gathering and strike. (See also Enduring Overhead Eyes.)