SAN DIEGO – 30 August 2007 – General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA‑ASI), a leading manufacturer of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) and tactical reconnaissance radars, today announced that its flagship Predator® A UAS series has surpassed the 300,000 flight hour milestone, with over 80 percent of that time spent in combat. The milestone was achieved by P-137 on August 12 while it performed an armed reconnaissance mission in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF). This particular aircraft has flown over 145 combat missions in the year and a half it has been deployed.
“Predator A series aircraft have doubled their monthly flight hours in just 12 months while supporting our troops in combat,” said Thomas J. Cassidy, Jr., president, Aircraft Systems Group, General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. “Their 300,000 flight hours to date are testimony to Predator A’s impressive operational performance and reliability flying daily combat missions over Iraq and Afghanistan. In fact, the Predator A series flew over 100,000 flight hours last year alone, far surpassing usage rates of prior years. Currently flying some 10,000 hours per month, Predator A continues to be 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, which it has been doing since 1995.”
Just a few days before achieving the 300,000 flight hour record, the Predator A UAS series also marked another significant milestone, the completion of its 25,000th flight. This was achieved by P-144 on August 8, also while in support of OIF.
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).
The entire Predator UAS family totals well over 250 aircraft and includes I-GNAT, Predator A, I-GNAT ER/Sky Warrior Alpha, Predator B, and Sky Warrior, among other aircraft. Additional customers include the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, NASA, the Turkish Army, and soon the Royal Air Force.
Source: General Atomics Aeronautical Systems
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