Defense News reports the Air Force is now attempting to figure out how to employ the hundreds of Reaper and Predator UAVs that entered USAF service or are still on order that now appear excess as a result of the end of the US participation in the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Several options are considered but none appears to be sufficient to use the large number that will be in the inventory.
There is one very interesting statistic included in the report, comparing the cost of the Reaper UAV with a manned alternative, the MC-12:
“And it’s not cheap to fly a Reaper. An hour of air time costs about $8,000, according to a 2012 audit by the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. Compare that to the $6,000-per-hour tab for an MC-12 Project Liberty, a twin-engine King Air plane flown by a pilot and a co-pilot with a technician and analyst in the back.”
Related: Surplus ISR Aircraft–MC-12Ws