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Predator Unmanned Aircraft System Achieves Million Flight Hours Milestone

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General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc
: 07 April, 2010  (New Product)
Over 80,000 missions, most of which were flown in combat, the Predator series UAS from General Atomics Aeronautical Systems has achieved a landmark 1,000,000 flight hours
General Atomics Aeronautical Systems (GA�ASI) has announced that its Predator-series UAS has reached a historic industry milestone, with combat missions over the past weekend pushing its proven aircraft family over the one million flight hours mark. The milestone encompasses just under 80,000 total missions, with over 85-percent of all missions flown in combat.

“The business of GA-ASI is the development of systems which deliver significant results,” said Neal Blue, Chairman and CEO, General Atomics Aeronautical Systems. “The achievement of this milestone is a testament to the success enjoyed by Predator-series unmanned aircraft systems – clearly a major influence in the industry today.”

The identification of the specific aircraft and customer that achieved the milestone will not be known until mid-May due to delayed flight hours reporting from the field. Predator-series UAS are in constant daily operations supporting the US Air Force, US Army, US Navy, US Department of Homeland Security, NASA, the Italian Air Force, the UK’s Royal Air Force, and other customers. Over 400 aircraft have been produced since the first Predator UAS took flight in 1994, including Predator A, I-GNAT ER/Sky Warrior Alpha, Predator B/MQ-9 Reaper, Sky Warrior, and Predator C Avenger, among others.

“This combined customer accomplishment reflects the high demand that in-theatre commanders have for the Predator product, as well as the exceptional contributions of our employees, suppliers, and partners,” said Frank Pace, newly appointed president of GA-ASI’s Aircraft Systems Group.

Predator-series flight hours have seen tremendous growth in recent years, with annual totals increasing from 80,000 hours in 2006, to 130,000 hours in 2007, 235,000 hours in 2008, and 295,000 hours in 2009. The one million flight hours milestone also comes at a time of great synergy for GA-ASI and its major customers, with the US Air Force announcing on March 12th that it has surpassed 700,000 flight hours for the MQ-1B Predator UAS and the US Army revealing that it is on track to mark one million flight hours for its UAS inventory this month.

“As Col Greg Gonzalez and Maj Gen James Myles noted in announcing the Army’s forthcoming UAS flight hours milestone, the real achievement is what one million represents – one million hours of operating a technology that keeps our soldiers safer and enables them and their commanders to see the enemy and themselves in ways they never could before,” added Pace.

Predator-series aircraft are currently logging nearly 30,000 flight hours a month supporting US coalition forces in combat and with homeland security requirements. Every second of every day, 40 aircraft are airborne worldwide providing persistent surveillance and precision strike support in Iraq, Afghanistan and other world hot spots; protecting the nation’s borders; and conducting humanitarian assistance and disaster relief support following wildfires, hurricanes, floods, and earthquakes. These aircraft continue to maintain the highest operational availability rates not only in US Air Force and US Army aviation, but also in the UK inventory. GA-ASI is currently building eight Predator-series UAS and seven ground control stations (GCS) per month, with the capacity to double production if needed.
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