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Predators, Reapers reach 2 million flight hours

Oct. 24, 2013 - 06:21PM   |  
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Airmen perform a preflight inspection on an MQ-1 Predator unmanned aircraft Oct. 22, 2013. (Navy)
Airmen perform a preflight inspection on an MQ-1 Predator unmanned aircraft Oct. 22, 2013. (Navy) (U.S. Navy Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class)
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Just how busy America’s UAV force has become is evident in this statistic: The Air Force’s MQ-1 Predator and MQ-9 Reaper unmanned aircraft have accumulated 2 million flight hours as of Oct. 22, according to the service.

The Air Force’s remotely piloted aircraft program began in the mid-1990s. “It took 16 years for the community to reach 1 million hours and a mere two and a half years to double those flight hours,” said an Air Force news release.

The two millionth flight hour was flown by a crew from Creech Air Force Base in Nevada. The Predator and Reaper are built by General Atomics Aeronautical Systems.

“We are continuing a legacy of flying of all the RPA pilots and sensors before us,” said Capt. Ben (last name withheld for security reasons), the 18th Reconnaissance Squadron pilot who flew that mission. “However, it’s a combined ‘one team, one fight’ effort. We depend on our counterparts, like communications, maintenance, launch and recovery teams, and other RPA airmen to be able to conduct and complete our missions.”

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