The General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper and variants of the Northrop Grumman Global Hawk recently achieved flight-time milestones, their manufacturers announced.
General Atomics said that MQ-9 reaper has reached 20,000 total flight hours during the 17 hour mission in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan on December 23. It is the highest flight time logged by a single MQ-9 or a Predator B. The record-setting aircraft flew for the first time on Jan. 31, 2008, and had accumulated 1,355 flights, nearly all in support of U.S. overseas contingency operations.
Northrop Grumman said that U.S. Air Force, Navy and NASA Global Hawks variants flew 781 hours from September 10 to 16, surpassing the company’s previous weekly flight record of 665 hours set last February. Air Force RQ-4s flew 87 percent of the missions; the Navy’s broad area maritime surveillance-demonstration (BAMS-D) and NASA’s hurricane research Aircraft flew the balance.
“There are at least two Global Hawks in the air at all times providing indispensable intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance information to those that need it,” said Mick Jaggers, Northrop Grumman’s program director. Jaggers said Fiscal Year 2014 “was the most active yet for the Global Hawk,” with a 40 percent year-over-year increase in flight hours.
According to Northrop Grumman, the latest RQ-4 deliveries completed four-aircraft procurement by the Air Force, bringing its Global Hawk fleet to 33 aircraft. The Air Force ordered three more Global Hawks in August. Those aircraft are scheduled for delivery in 2016 and 2017
Susweta Bose [Masters in Mass Comm ]