The US Air Force is preparing to retire the MQ-1 Predator drone in March 2018 and transition entirely to the MQ-9 Reaper.
“The mighty MQ-1 may not be fast, but our proficient aircrews and support personnel capitalized on its new capabilities to deliver unmatched persistence, exceptional reconnaissance, and precision attack to combatant commanders worldwide,” said Col. Julian C. Cheater, 432nd WG/432nd AEW commander. “I believe the employment of MQ-1s helped shape a new type of warfare, where dangerous enemies of the U.S. and its coalition partners have no sanctuary.”
“Between the Predators and Reapers alone, we have 303 aircraft, and we are now approaching 2.5 million (flight) hours, of which 90 percent has been in combat,” said James Clark, the then ISR innovation director who now serves as deputy chief of staff for ISR, Headquarters U.S. Air Force, in a 2014 interview. – US Air Force
Featured image of an MQ-1 Predator sitting on the flight line Dec. 8, 2016, at Creech Air Force Base, Nev. The Predator started as an RQ-1 in the late 1990s, providing only reconnaissance capabilities until the early 2000s, when it was equipped with two AGM-114 Hellfire missiles and designated as a multirole asset. U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Christian Clausen