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Airmen perform a pre-flight check on a MQ-9 Reaper at an undisclosed location in Southwest Asia, on Jan. 16, 2019. Air Force photo by SSgt. Jeremy Mosier.

​The Air Force’s remotely piloted aircraft community hit a milestone March 1 as the combined MQ-1 Predator and MQ-9 Reaper fleet surpassed four million flight hours.

The two aircraft, which have been the backbone of USAF intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance since the Predator was introduced in 1996, are the main component of 24-hour ISR and persistence attack, along with search and rescue.

The aircraft hit the two million flying hour mark in 2012, and the MQ-9 itself is expected to reach two million hours this summer, according to an Air Force release.

By comparison, the RC-135 Rivet Joint has flown about one million hours, and the U-2 has flown 485,000 hours, according to the Air Force.

The Predator retired last year as the Air Force moved toward an all MQ-9 fleet.