General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA-ASI) has reported a new milestone for its Predator-series of remotely piloted aircraft (RPA).
The global Predator series aircraft completed the milestone of six million flight hours on 31 October.
The GA-ASI aircraft completed 430,495 total missions in support of several customers including the US Air Force (USAF), US Army, US Marine Corps, the French Air Force, the British Royal Air Force and the Italian Air Force.
According to the company, nearly 90% of the total missions were flown in combat.
The Predator series includes the Predator, Predator B, Avenger, Gray Eagle, and MQ-9B SkyGuardian.
GA-ASI CEO Linden Blue said: “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.
“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.”
It is said that about 69 Predator-class medium-altitude, long-endurance (MALE) RPA aircraft remain airborne round-the-clock worldwide.
GA-ASI president David Alexander said: “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.
“Because of the dedication of our employees, our suppliers and partners, our aircraft have the highest mission capable rate in the USAF aircraft inventory.”
The GA-ASI aircraft support a range of missions, including protection of ground forces on the battlefield and natural disaster response operations.
They are also used in US Customs & Border Protection operations.
The UK Ministry of Defence is procuring the Protector RG Mk1 from GA-ASI for the Royal Air Force. GA-ASI signed a contract in September to complete testing and evaluation of the programme.
The MQ-9B SkyGuardian is the baseline RPA for the Protector.