Procurement: Reapers


September 23, 2007: The U.S. Air Force has bought 36 Predator MQ-9A Reaper UAVs (sometimes called "Predator B). That's just for the aircraft, the sensors and support gear cost millions more. Total cost for a Reaper can be close to $10 million. So far, Predators have flown over 25,000 sorties, and spent over 300,000 hours in the air. The Predator UAV fleet, of about a hundred aircraft, is currently flying about 10,000 hours a month. The MQ-9A and MQ-9B is used mainly for combat missions, and comes equipped to carry Hellfire missiles or smart bombs.

The air force has ordered nearly 300 Predators so far, and a quarter of those are not yet delivered. Most of the ones in use are Predator As, which cost $4.5 (complete) and can stay in the air for up to 40 hours, but the average sortie is closer to 12 hours. The Reapers will serve in separate "attack squadrons." The Predators are in reconnaissance squadrons. The Reaper will operate in sections of four aircraft, one of which can be in the air at a time. As with the Predator, Reaper flight crews (usually a pilot and one sensor operator) are based back in the United States, with only maintenance personnel going overseas.




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