The US Air Force will retire the last of its General Atomics MQ-1 Predator series unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) in early 2018 as the more capable General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper replaces them. This will enable the US Air Force to stop Predator-specific training, operations and maintenance activities.
MQ-9 service life is also of concern to the US Air Force because of the ongoing around-the-clock UAV operations.
Block 1 MQ-9s were built with a design service life of 20,000 hours, which was increased to 40,000 hours for Block 5 MQ-9s. Static testing on MQ-9s to identify potential structural problems is currently underway and will be completed in FY2019. David C Isby