> our title:

Italian Predators Rack Up 7,000 Hours in Afghanistan

> original title:

7000 Hours for Predator in Afghan Skies

(Source: Italian Air Force; dated Sept. 15, web-posted Sept. 20, 2011)

(Issued in Italian only; unofficial translation by defense-aerospace.com)

The Predator unmanned aircraft of Task Group 'Astore,' part of the Joint Air Task Force in Herat, Afghanistan, have reached the 7,000 flying hour mark, the result of 800 missions completed since 2007 that have decisively helped the country's transition process.

The Italian Air Force Predators, thanks to their characteristics that combine low visibility and long endurance over their target, are used increasingly for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) missions.

In particular, their use has allowed the verification and control of development and security in Afghan territory and the cooperation with ISAF troops on ground operations.

Task Group 'Astore' is part of the Joint Air Task Force (JATF) based in Herat (Afghanistan) and commanded by Colonel Gianluca Ercolani.

The Predator is an unmanned airplane that can fly at altitudes of up to 8,000 meters for over 20 consecutive hours. It has onboard sensors that, remotely operated by personnel in the ground station, allow taping of electro-optical and infrared video footage of the area, which are then transmitted in real time to an operator for interpretation.