The US Army’s Northrop Grumman MQ-5B hunter unmanned air vehicle has flown its last flight from its home at Ft Huachuca in Arizona, where it has been stationed for some 20 years.
In service since 1996, the medium-altitude, long-endurance Hunter has flown 12,896 out of some 100,000 total flight hours from the site, according to the army, and is being replaced at Huachuca by the General Atomics Aeronautical Systems MQ-1C Gray Eagle UAV.
The Hunter carried out its last flight from the Rugge Hamilton runway in Arizona, watched by personnel that had been involved in the programme over its lifespan. It will remain in operation at other army, where it will be managed by Northrop Grumman.
Operations of the Hunter began at Huachuca in 1992, when a limited user test (LUT) was set up to test the UAV against what was the McDonnell Douglas (now Boeing) Sky Owl UAV, and in conjunction with this a training class for the type was established.
This class was made up of army soldiers and Marines Corps personnel who graduated in April 1992. After the LUT had been completed, the US Department of Defense selected the Hunter for its short-range UAV requirement. The Hunter was consequently deployed to Iraq and Kosovo.