Predator B Fleet Hits One Million Flight Hours

Predator B/MQ-9 Reaper remotely piloted aircraft operated by the United States and other countries recently reached one million cumulative flight hours, announced manufacturer General Atomics Aeronautical Systems on Monday. Nearly 90 percent of the 78,606 sorties over a 14-year period that led to this milestone were in combat, according to the company. A Predator B flying on Feb. 20 hit the fleet-hour milestone, states the company’s release. The first flight of a Predator B took place on Feb. 2, 2001. The Air Force is the principle operator of these airplanes, flying armed variants designated MQ-9s for gathering intelligence and striking ground targets in places like the Middle East. The Homeland Security Department uses unarmed versions for monitoring US borders and NASA flies Predator Bs for scientific research. The British Royal Air Force, French air force, Italian air force, and other customers also operate the aircraft. Predator B/MQ-9 aircraft are currently logging more than 700 hours a day, according to the company, which has delivered more than 230 of them and is currently building three of them per month. The company announced earlier this month that it is offering the Predator B to Spain.