The US Air Force has come out with some great coverage this week about its remotely piloted aircraft (RPA) operations, as the use of its General Atomics Aeronautical Systems MQ-1 Predator and MQ-9 Reaper has broken through the 2 million flight hour barrier.
“Drones get shot at for target practice. We are not drones,” says Capt Blain, an instructor pilot at Holloman AFB in New Mexico. “There’s a pilot, sensor operator, tactical intelligence, ground commander – a team of humans trained to make decisions at all times. We are just remotely piloted.” The story’s well worth a read, whether you’re for or against the use of RPA, as it succeeds in getting the reader – if not inside the cockpit – then at least inside the ground control station (picture courtesy of Airman’s Flickr feed).
While the USAF is trying to stop short of having to establish a previously-planned 65 unmanned aircraft orbits around the globe, its volume of flight activity with the Reaper and Predator is simply staggering.
On 22 October, the service announced that a crew at Creech AFB in Nevada had logged its 2 millionth Predator/Reaper flight hour, and revealed just how quick that total is now being added to.