If you needed any more evidence as to how important unmanned aircraft have become to the US military operations, the US Air Force today said drones have amassed over one million combat hours flown.
While that number is impressive, it took the planes known as Global Hawk, Predator and Reaper, almost 14 years to do it, but it could take only a little over another two years to cross the two million mark according to Air Force officials.
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"Global Hawk, Reaper, and Predator are worth 1.2 million and change, in combat hours. A weapons system that has revolutionized the course of this war." said James G. Clark, the deputy chief of staff for Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance at the Pentagon in a statement. "Predator, Reaper and Global Hawk are now the most requested capability of today's warfighters in conflict. Where a normal weapons system would take years and months, the track record for these aircraft can be measured in hours and days."
The Air Force Times recently noted: In March, Air Force unmanned aircraft surpassed 1 million combat operations. Its Predator and Reaper aircraft have tracked 19,000 targets. Even fighting wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the Air Force has had to send unmanned aircraft to aid disaster relief in Haiti and Japan and help allies over Libya. Demand will only grow. In five years, the amount of data transmitted by Air Force unmanned aircraft is projected to reach an exabyte a day. That's 1.1 billion gigabytes, equivalent to 228.5 million DVDs.
The U.S. Army said it went past the one million unmanned-hour mark in April of 2010. At the time the DefenseTalk.com site noted the growth in the use of Army drones was staggering -- the Army inventory jumped from a handful of systems in 2001 to roughly 1,000 aircraft by 2010 and is now logging up to 25,000 of UAV flight hours per month in support of combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.
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