Aircraft Also Flies 25,000th Mission
General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. announced this week
its flagship Predator A Unmanned Aircraft System series recently
surpassed the 300,000 flight hour milestone, with over 80 percent
of that time spent in combat.
The company tells ANN the milestone was achieved by P-137 on
August 12, while it performed an armed reconnaissance mission in
support of Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF). This particular aircraft
has flown over 145 combat missions in the year and a half it has
"Predator A series
aircraft have doubled their monthly flight hours in just 12 months
while supporting our troops in combat," said Thomas J. Cassidy,
Jr., president, Aircraft Systems Group, General Atomics
Aeronautical Systems, Inc. "Their 300,000 flight hours to date are
testimony to Predator A’s impressive operational performance
and reliability flying daily combat missions over Iraq and
Afghanistan. In fact, the Predator A series flew over 100,000
flight hours last year alone, far surpassing usage rates of prior
years. Currently flying some 10,000 hours per month, Predator A
continues to be the most combat-proven UAS ever produced, providing
persistent armed reconnaissance and battlefield support to ground
forces in the Balkans, Afghanistan, Iraq, and other world trouble
spots, which it has been doing since 1995."
Just a few days before achieving the 300,000 flight hour record,
the Predator A UAS series also marked another significant
milestone, the completion of its 25,000th flight. This was achieved
by P-144 on August 8, also while in support of OIF.
A growth evolution of the proven GNAT system, Predator A
performs over-the-horizon, long-endurance, medium-altitude
surveillance, reconnaissance, and weapons delivery and has an
endurance of 40 hours. Featuring common avionics and mechanical
systems, Predator A is equipped with a satellite data link system;
an Electro-Optical/Infrared (EO/IR)-stabilized gimbal containing
color and infrared video cameras, plus laser designation, laser
spotting, and laser range-finding capabilities; as well as
laser-guided Hellfire missiles.
A Lynx Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) is also deployed and
operational on some Predator A series aircraft. Predator As are
currently operational with the US Air Force, US Navy, Italian Air
Force, and the US Army (I-GNAT ER/Sky Warrior Alpha).
The entire Predator UAS family totals well over 250 aircraft and
includes I-GNAT, Predator A, I-GNAT ER/Sky Warrior Alpha, Predator
B, and Sky Warrior, among other aircraft. Additional
customers include the US Department of Homeland Security, NASA, the
Turkish Army, and soon the Royal Air Force.
As ANN reported, the entire
Predator family hit 300,000 flight hours earlier this year.