General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA-ASI), a leading manufacturer of Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA), radars, and electro-optic and related mission systems solutions, announced that its Predator®-series family of aircraft, including MQ-1 Predator, MQ-9 Reaper®, and MQ-1C Gray Eagle, has achieved a historic industry milestone: four million flight hours.
The milestone was crossed on August 7th, 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. We are proud of our fleet's contributions in providing round-the-clock ISR capabilities for our customers worldwide,” said Linden Blue, CEO, GA-ASI.
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 historic 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.
These aircraft systems continue to maintain the highest operational availability rates in the U.S. Air Force and U.S. Army aircraft inventories. GA-ASI has produced over 770 aircraft to date and is currently building four aircraft per month, with the capacity to triple production if needed.