A single US Air Force General Atomics Aeronautical Systems MQ-9 Reaper unmanned air vehicle has surpassed a record 20,000 flight hours to date, following a 17h combat sortie in support of the US military's operations in Afghanistan.
This marked the highest number of flight hours amassed by any Predator B/Reaper UAV, and happened on 23 December while flying in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
The aircraft first flew on 31 January 2008, and has since flown some 1,355 flights. These were mainly flown in support of overseas contingency operations that the USAF has been involved in.
“Accumulating 20,000h on a lone Predator B airframe is a major engineering milestone that can be traced back to our talented and resourceful GA-ASI engineering team, who continues to develop highly resilient, reliable and affordable platforms that continue to keep warfighters safe every day overseas,” says General Atomics chief executive Linden Blue.
Some 230 of the surveillance and strike aircraft have accumulated over 942,000 flight hours since the UAV’s first flight in 2001, General Atomics says.