U.S. Air Force MQ-1 Predators Achieve 500,000 Flight Hours

U.S. Air Force MQ-1 Predators Achieve 500,000 Flight Hours

Mar 03, 2009

GA-ASI Predator A Deliveries to USAF Nears 200

SAN DIEGO – 3 March 2009 – General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA‑ASI), a leading manufacturer of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) and tactical reconnaissance radars, today announced that MQ-1 Predator® aircraft delivered to the U.S. Air Force (USAF) have surpassed the 500,000 flight hour milestone, with 87 percent of those hours being flown in combat. The milestone was achieved by P-143 on February 16 while it performed an armed reconnaissance mission in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF). This particular aircraft has flown over 330 combat missions in the two-and-a-half years it has been deployed.

“In July 1994 we delivered the first MQ-1 Predator, and next month we are scheduled to deliver the 200th Predator aircraft to our U.S. Air Force customer,” said Thomas J. Cassidy, Jr., president, Aircraft Systems Group, General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. “In less than two years, flight hours for all Predator A type aircraft have almost doubled and are now approaching 20,000 hours per month, with USAF MQ-1s flying nearly 85 percent of those hours. Their 500,000 flight hours to date are a testimony to Predator A’s legacy as 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.”

“Members of the Air Force Material Command and GA-ASI have worked aggressively to deliver the Predator weapon system and the recent milestone is a result of a good partnership,” said Col. Christopher Chambliss, 432nd Wing and 432nd Air Expeditionary Wing commander. “The [Predator] program’s success has been a testament to outstanding teamwork and American ingenuity and innovation, fueled by a desire to not settle for anything less than delivering the most reliable weapons systems to members of our armed forces when called upon to achieve national security objectives.”

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 U.S. Air Force, U.S. Navy, Italian Air Force, and the U.S. Army (I-GNAT ER/Sky Warrior® Alpha).

High-resolution photos of USAF MQ-1 Predator aircraft are available from the GA-ASI media contact listed below.

About GA-ASI

General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc., an affiliate of General Atomics, provides comprehensive unmanned aircraft and radar solutions for military and commercial applications worldwide. The company’s Aircraft Systems Group is a leading designer and manufacturer of proven, reliable unmanned aircraft systems, including Predator A, Predator B, and Sky Warrior, and provides pilot training and support services for UAS field operations. The Reconnaissance Systems Group designs, manufactures, and integrates the Lynx SAR/GMTI radar into both manned and unmanned aircraft, as well as the highly sophisticated CLAW® sensor control and image analysis software, and integrates sensor and communications equipment into manned ISR aircraft. For more information, please visit www.ga-asi.com.

Predator, Sky Warrior, Lynx, and CLAW are registered trademarks of General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc.

For more information contact:

Kimberly Kasitz
Public Relations Manager
General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc.