SAN DIEGO, Jan. 12, 2015—General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA‑ASI), a leading manufacturer of Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) systems, radars, and electro-optic and related mission systems solutions, today announced that a Predator® B/MQ-9 Reaper® RPA has reached a record 20,000 flight hours on a single aircraft, signifying the highest flight time of any Predator B. The milestone was achieved while performing a 17-hour combat mission in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan on December 23.
“Accumulating 20,000 hours on a lone Predator B airframe is a major engineering milestone that can be traced back to our talented and resourceful GA-ASI Engineering team, who continues to develop highly resilient, reliable, and affordable platforms that continue to keep warfighters safe every day overseas,” said Linden P. Blue, CEO, GA-ASI.
The record-breaking aircraft flew its first flight on January 31, 2008 and has accumulated 1,355 flights, with almost 100-percent of those flights having been flown in direct support of Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO).
The multi-mission Predator B is a long-endurance, medium-high-altitude RPA that can be used for surveillance, military reconnaissance, and targeting missions. The current aircraft configuration features an extensive payload capacity (850 lb/386 kg internally, 3,000 lb/1361 kg externally), with a maximum gross takeoff weight of 10,500 lb/4763 kg, is powered by a Honeywell turboprop engine, has a maximum altitude of 50,000 feet/15240 meters, and can stay aloft for up to 27 hours. The standard payload configuration includes a high-definition, optical Infrared (IR) video system and a high-resolution ground imaging radar (SAR). The radar also has Ground Moving Target Indicator (GMTI) and Maritime Wide-area Search (MWAS) modes.
Predator B is currently operational with the U.S. Air Force, Royal Air Force, and French Air Force as MQ-9 Reaper, and with the Italian Air Force as MQ-9. The aircraft provides unparalleled close air support and persistent situational awareness over land or sea to coalition forces, demonstrating proven NATO interoperability. Additionally, Predator B is in use by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and NASA. Some 230 Predator B aircraft have amassed more than 942,000 flight hours since the RPA’s first flight in 2001.
General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc., an affiliate of General Atomics, delivers situational awareness by providing remotely piloted aircraft systems, radar, and electro-optic and related mission systems solutions for military and commercial applications worldwide. The company’s Aircraft Systems business unit is a leading designer and manufacturer of proven, reliable RPA systems, including Predator A, Predator B/MQ-9 Reaper, Gray Eagle®, the new Predator C Avenger®, and Predator XP. It also manufactures a variety of state-of-the-art digital Ground Control Stations (GCS), including the next-generation Advanced Cockpit GCS, and provides pilot training and support services for RPA field operations. The Mission Systems business unit designs, manufactures, and integrates the Lynx® Multi-mode Radar and sophisticated Claw® sensor control and image analysis software into both manned and remotely piloted aircraft. It also focuses on providing integrated sensor payloads and software for Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) aircraft platforms and develops high energy lasers, electro-optic sensors, and meta-material antennas. For more information, please visit www.ga-asi.com.