Italian Predator Bs pass flight milestone in Kuwait

Italian Air Force MQ-9A Predator B unmanned aerial systems (UAS), currently deployed at the Ali Al Salem air base in Kuwait, have passed 10,000 flight hours in support of military operations in the region.

Predator Bs deployed at the base have and continue to support the US-led Operation Inherent Resolve – the ongoing fight against so-called Islamic State.

Under the command of the Italian National Contingent Command Air/Task Force Air-Kuwait (IT NCC Air/TFA-K), the MQ-9s conduct intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) missions in the region and distribute actionable information to coalition forces.

Italian MQ-9A [Italian Air Force]
An Italian Air Force MQ-9A Predator B - serial IT09-160 - on the ground at Ali Al Salem air base in Kuwait. Italian Air Force

Capt Marco R, group commander of the IT NCC Air, said: [The] task group is proud to have reached the ambitious milestone of 10,000 flight hours” in support of Operation Inherent Resolve. It is “the result of intense work, seamlessly in over five years of mission in the operating [theatre],” he added.

This milestone translates to more than 700 successful missions, completing an average of 15 flight hours per sortie. It comes just days after the Italian Air Force’s 32nd Wing at Amendola air base, Foggia, surpassed 50,000 flight hours in operating the MQ-1C Predator A+ and MQ-9 Predator B fleets.

AirForces Intelligence data states that, as of July 14, the Italian Air Force operates five examples of the General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc (GA-ASI) MQ-9 Predator B medium-altitude long-endurance (MALE) UAS. In total, six were delivered but one was lost over Libya in November 2019. The aircraft entered service with the 32nd Wing in July 2010. Italian MQ-9 Predator Bs have been operating in the Middle East since October 2014.