HomeNewsArticle Display

MQ-1B, MQ-9 flight hours hit 4 million

JOINT BASE LANGLEY-EUSTIS, Va. (AFNS) --

The MQ-1B Predator and MQ-9 Reaper remotely piloted aircraft reached a historic flight hour milestone March 1.

The Predator and Reaper have now been flown more than 4 million hours in support of a 24-hour mission around the world conducting persistent attack and reconnaissance; search and rescue and strike and support to civil authority missions in support of multiple combatant commands.

In contrast, here is how a few other reconnaissance asset flight hours stack up: The RC-135V/W Rivet Joint has flown a little more than 1 million hours and the U-2 Dragon Lady has flown 485,000 hours. Both of those numbers are calculated over the lifetime of the program, with data being gathered as far back as the 1960s.

The MQ-1B entered the Air Force fleet in 1996 and retired in 2018, and the MQ-9 mission began in 2007.

“The total number of hours for the birds is wildly impressive,” said Jim Roche, the 20th secretary of the Air Force who served from 2001 to 2005. “But, even more impressive is the 4 million hours of pilot and sensor operator time. That's over 450 years of operations time per crewman. Add in maintainers, planners and support personnel, and this means that our RPA operation was and will remain massive and deadly when needed.

“Our country and a number of our allies have benefited in wartime in ways we would not have believed before the turn of the century,” continued Roche, who was instrumental in the weaponizing of the MQ-1 after 9/11. “To all who made this happen, to include the design and manufacturing of the aircraft and who continue to adapt these devices to emerging threats, our wholehearted thanks and admiration. Well done, Airmen.”

The Airmen who are responsible for the MQ-9 are located at Creech Air Force Base, Nevada; Ellsworth AFB, South Dakota; Whiteman AFB, Missouri and Shaw AFB, South Carolina. The capability these aircraft provide to the Department of Defense is unique and the Air Force is committed to building on the successes of the RPA enterprise.

“This is a weapons system and community that was born out of innovation,” said Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein during a visit to Creech AFB in January 2019. “We needed to build an enterprise to better understand the adversary and keep their heads down so they could never put together a complex attack. The Airmen here are delivering combat capabilities every single day.”

“Every day, Airmen in this wing — from maintenance, to sensor operators, to pilots, to mission intelligence coordinators, to the thousand Airmen who have their fingerprints on every aircraft, every sortie that takes off, to every line that we fly — are bringing new innovative ideas to how we do this business,” Goldfein said. “It represents some of the most flexible operations that we have in our inventory.”

The flight hours are a testament to the value of the aircraft. The MQ-1 and MQ-9 hit the 2 million hour mark in 2012, the 3 million hour mark in 2016 and the 4 million hour mark in March of 2019. Separately, the MQ-9 itself is anticipated to hit the 2 million hour mark this summer.

“They’ve essentially changed the face of warfare,” said retired Gen. Mark Welsh, the 20th Air Force chief of staff who served from 2012 to 2016. “There really aren't too many groups in history that have truly done that. The most exciting thing to me is that 4 million hours is just the beginning. I can't wait to see what these great Airmen can do with better and better technology.

“They're pioneers,” Welsh continued. “I hope they're as proud of what they've accomplished as we are of them.”

Engage

Facebook Twitter
RT @AirmanMagazine: That's what friends are for😎 A @usairforce KC-10 Extender crew from @Travis60AMW gave fuel to the @BlueAngels' F-18 Ho…
On Oct. 23, Lt. Gen. Warren Berry will discuss his service, his position and the role of the #AirForce. Click the l… https://t.co/AKTwiFpSrj
RT @SecAFOfficial: It’s an exciting & historic time to be an #Airman! Thanks for serving this great nation. It’s time to increase the thrus…
RT @US_TRANSCOM: @usairforce Airmen assigned to @grandslamwing move cargo to Bagram, Afghanistan in support of @CJTFOIR. @US_TRANSCOM’s ass…
RT @GenDaveGoldfein: We must keep talking, keep asking...always connecting. We owe it to our #Airmen and each other. https://t.co/vjvPVLSDdI
RT @37thTRW: Who remembers cleaning 🧼 one of these rooms for inspection at #BMT? Or the #wingman that slept beside you? 🛏 Lots of history i…
RT @DeptofDefense: .@usairforce firefighters with the 36th Civil Engineer Squadron take part in a mock aircraft fire exercise at Andersen A…
RT @DeptofDefense: With a little help from my friends 🇬🇧 🇺🇸 The @usairforce @AFThunderbirds perform with the @rafredarrows in the largest a…
RT @AF_Academy: New Academy telescope will be largest available for public viewing in Colorado. https://t.co/0e4AJJTHUn https://t.co/uHT0Mb…
RT @DepSecDef: Congratulations to Barbara Barrett on confirmation as the 25th Secretary of the @usairforce. A businesswoman, attorney, dipl…
RT @30thSpaceWing: #DYK –VAFB is partially powered by a 200 acre, 28MW solar array, reducing its electrical demand by 35%, saving the base…
RT @WrightPattAFB: An @AFResearchLab team recently delivered version 2.0 of the Survival Health Awareness Responders Kit (SHARK) to @usairf
Watch the video of Secretary of the Air Force Barbara Barrett being sworn in. Click the link to learn more about… https://t.co/agE0mT2cFj
RT @EsperDoD: Congratulations to Barbara Barrett, the 25th @SecAFOfficial. I know she will lead the charge to modernize @usairforce operati…
RT @GenDaveGoldfein: It’s a great day to be an Airman. Today Barbara Barrett officially became our 25th @SecAFOfficial. The men and women…
RT @DeptofDefense: Fill em up! ⛽ KC-135 Stratotankers from @RAFMildenhall refueled over 80 F-15s in a two-day exercise, offloading 480,000…
RT @SecAFOfficial: Today I officially became the 25th Secretary of the #AirForce. I'm conscious of the extraordinary privilege of working w…
RT @HQUSAFEPA: #BomberTaskForceEurope 20-1 is in full swing and B-52s from @TeamBarksdale are operating out of RAF Fairford to improve bomb…