Three Million and Counting

The MQ-1 Predator and MQ-9 Reaper family of systems and its variants have amassed three million flight hours, General Atomics Aeronautical Systems announced Oct. 14. Of the nearly 222,000 total missions completed in MQ-1 Predator/MQ-9 Reaper and Gray Eagle aircraft as of Oct. 2, almost 90 percent were flown in combat. The milestone represents the widespread usage and growth of remotely piloted aircraft systems for applications from intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance gathering to strike operations. Flight hours have grown at an explosive clip for the systems, with just 500,000 hours flown as of 2008, a million two years later, and two million in 2012. The Air Force’s own MQ-1 and MQ-9s hit two million flight hours last October. According to the company, it has produced a total of 700 airframes of the various types to date, and is currently testing upgrades and modifications to add range and capacity to the Reaper.