Procurement: The Most Successful Post Cold War Aircraft

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November 12,2008: Over 300 Predator class UAVs have been manufactured so far, and that number is expected to double in the next three years. Most built so far are the MQ-1B. but a third are related models (Reaper, I-Gnat, Sky Warrior). While the U.S. Air Force has been the main customer for Predator, the U.S. Army, U.S. Navy, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, NASA, the Italian Air Force, the British Royal Air Force, and others have bought or ordered Predators. Some customers will have to wait a while, as only 80-90 Predator class UAVs are being produced each year. This is increasing, but not fast enough to handle all the demand. One of the few new aircraft that began development since the Cold War ended, Predator has been the most successful and revolutionary.

So far, these UAVs have flown 500,000 hours, and 50,000 sorties. Some 85 percent of this has been in combat. Over fifty MQ-9 Reapers have been produced so far, but this will soon be eclipsed by the MQ-1C Sky Warrior, which will enter production next year. Several pre-production models have been flying combat missions in Iraq this year, to work out any last kinks. The army wants 500 MQ-1Cs, while the air force may take several hundred.

 

 


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