Hope you aren’t too attached to the Predator
After 21 years of service, the MQ-1 Predator UAV drone will be retired next year. Big Blue will instead opt for a full MQ-9 Reaper fleet citing better equipment and overall operational capabilities such as bigger payloads, higher flight ceilings, and top speeds.
“Right now the plan is to stop flying the MQ-1 in 2018, and that means we need to get transitioned this year,” said Lt. Col. James, 20th Attack Squadron commander. “As part of that, we are going to stop flying the MQ-1 completely by July 1, 2017. We will gradually stand up our number of combat lines on the MQ-9 so by the end of the year we are only an MQ-9 squadron.”
As a result, the USAF will no longer have to maintain a training pipeline or equipment on two separate drones which will provide a cost savings.
“We have found how to fly an imperfect weapons system very well, and I think we have maximized the effectiveness that we can get out of the MQ-1. I have no doubt that we will continue to find ways to be more effective in combat with the MQ-9,” said James.