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Predator drones surpass 4 million flight hours

The hours were accumulated by the MQ-1 Predator, MQ-9 Reaper, and MQ-1C Gray Eagle through 291,331 missions, 90 percent of them in combat.

By Richard Tomkins
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Predator drones surpass 4 million flight hours
Four million flight hours have been accumulated by Predator family of drones -- the MQ-1 Predator, MQ-9 Reaper, and MQ-1C Gray Eagle -- through 291,331 missions, 90 percent of them in combat. Pictured, the MQ-1 Predator assigned to the 163rd Reconnaissance Wing is in flight over the Southern California Logistics Airport, formerly George Air Force Base, in Victorville, Calif., Jan. 7, 2012. U.S. Air Force Photo by Tech. Sgt. Effrain Lopez

WASHINGTON, Sept. 21 (UPI) -- The Predator family of remotely piloted aircraft has achieved a milestone -- 4 million fight hours, according to General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc.

The hours were accumulated by the MQ-1 Predator, MQ-9 Reaper, and MQ-1C Gray Eagle through 291,331 total missions completed, 90 percent of them in combat.

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"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, chief executive officer of GA-ASI. "We are proud of our fleet's contributions in providing round-the-clock ISR capabilities for our customers worldwide."

Added David R. Alexander, president of the company's Aircraft Systems sector: "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."

GA-ASI's Predator B/MQ-9 Reaper fleet recenty passed its own historic milestone, achieving 1.5 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 4 million total flight hours and are increasing at an average rate of 32,000 hours a month.

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GA-ASI said its Predator family of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance unmanned aerial vehicles are logging nearly 45,000 hours per month with the U.S. Air Force, U.S. Army, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, NASA, the Italian Air Force, Britain's Royal Air Force, the French Air Force, and other customers.

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