Les avions inhabités (« unmanned ») en service dans l’USAF exigent beaucoup de pilotes et d’opérateurs au sol pour leur mise en œuvre.
A typical Predator crew consists of a pilot and one or two sensor operators. Because the Predator stays in the air for so long, more than one crew is used for each sortie.
Predators and Reapers fly sorties that last, on average, about 18 hours.
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Leur taux d’attrition n’est pas mauvais.
December 23, 2012: Last year the large U.S. Air Force UAVs (MQ-1 Predator, MQ-9 Reaper, and RQ-4 Global Hawk) had an accident rate of 3.8 per 100,000 hours. This accident rate is currently lower than that of the F-16, which is currently one of the safest manned fighter aircraft flying. Last year these air force UAVs had 13 “Class A” accidents (one causing over two million dollars of loss). By way of comparison, the F-22 an accident rate is about 6 per 100,000 hours. F-15s and F-16s have an accident rate of 4 per 100,000 flight hours.
Despite the current accident record, it’s been a rough decade for air force UAVs. Some 20 percent of the air force Predator and Reaper UAVs have been lost to accidents. This spurred the air force to make UAVs more reliable and reduce the loss rate. Two years ago the accident rate for its MQ-1 Predators was down to about 5 and it was expected that this would continue declining. The year before that the UAV rate was twice the rate of manned fighter aircraft (like the F-15 or F-16) and four times the rate of the old but very reliable B-52. Note that the UAV accident rate is lower than that of single engine private aircraft (8). Reapers have a slightly higher rate than the older (and more numerous) Predator.