A Predator B remotely piloted aircraft in flight. Courtesy General Atomics

General Atomics Aeronautical Systems announced Monday its Predator B/MQ-9 Reaper series of remotely piloted aircraft have reached the milestone of 1 million cumulative flight hours, with almost 90-percent of missions flown in combat.

The San Diego-based company also said its older Predator/Gray Eagle series set a single-year record of over 500,000 flight hours flown in 2014. This is the equivalent of flying 1,370 hours around-the-clock every day.

“These two achievements wouldn’t be possible without the dedication and commitment of our employees,” said Frank W. Pace, president of aircraft systems for the company. “These records are a testament to the reliability and durability, as well as the remarkable operational flexibility, of GA-ASI’s RPA family.”

Predator B reached the 1 million hours milestone Feb. 20 after flying 78,606 sorties. Its first flight occurred in Palmdale, Calif., in 2001. Predator B flight hours now account for approximately one-third of the company’s total flight hours.

The craft are used by the U.S. Air Force, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, NASA, the Italian Air Force, the Royal Air Force, the French Air Force, and other customers. General Atomics has delivered more than 230 Predator B aircraft and is currently building three aircraft per month.

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Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.