General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA‑ASI) announced that its Predator®-series of Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA), which includes the Predator, Predator B, Gray Eagle, Avenger® and MQ-9B SkyGuardian® lines, has surpassed six million flight hours. The milestone was achieved on October 31, 2019 with GA-ASI aircraft having completed 430,495 total missions with close to 90 percent of those missions flown in combat.
“Six million flight hours is a testament to the reliability of our unmanned aircraft systems that are designed, built, and sustained by a dedicated group of skilled and innovative professionals for operations around the world,” said Linden Blue, CEO, GA-ASI. “In our more than 25 years in business, GA-ASI has achieved a list of historic ‘firsts’ in RPA development and we have leveraged those accomplishments to better support our customer’s requirements.”
The identification of the specific aircraft and customer that achieved the milestone is unknown as every second of every day, 69 Predator-class Medium-altitude, Long-endurance (MALE) RPA are airborne throughout the world. 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, three million hours in 2014, four million hours in 2016 and five million flight hours in 2018.
“The demand for persistent situational awareness using our RPA is demonstrated daily through the accumulation of flight hours. The demand for our aircraft 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, GA-ASI. “Because of the dedication of our employees, our suppliers and partners, our aircraft have the highest mission capable rate in the USAF aircraft inventory.”
GA-ASI aircraft average more than 60,000 hours per month supporting the U.S. Air Force, U.S. Army, U.S. Marine Corps, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, NASA, the Italian Air Force, the Royal Air Force, the French Air Force, the UAE Armed Forces, 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 mission capable rates for U.S. Air Force and U.S. Army aircraft inventories.
GA-ASI has produced more than 900 aircraft and over 400 Ground Control Stations (GCS). In addition to RPA and GCS, GA-ASI also produces Processing, Exploitation and Dissemination (PED) systems as well as sensor payloads that deliver radar and video imagery, detect moving targets on the ground and over water, and provide Signal Intelligence (SIGINT) on signals of interest. GA-ASI also integrates the data products from these disparate sensors in real time via SATCOM data links to the GCS that can be correlated and displayed as actionable intelligence for use in Operations and Intelligence Centers around the world.
The Predator-series family includes Predator A and Predator XP; Predator B/MQ-9A Reaper, Predator B Extended Range (ER), Guardian, Gray Eagle/ER; Predator C Avenger/ER; MQ-9B SkyGuardian and SeaGuardian®.