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Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. John P. Jumper told Congress last month that he wants to buy every Predator robotic spy plane that San Diego's General Atomics Aeronautical Systems can possibly build.
The U.S. Air Force has accepted 114 Predators as of last month, according to Master Sgt. Dawn L. Collazo, a spokeswoman for the Air Combat Command at Langley, Va.
The Air Force has lost 26 Predators in combat since 2002, when stepped-up operations began in Afghanistan and Iraq, Collazo said. The Air Force previously acknowledged losing 20 aircraft, which brings the overall losses of the unmanned aircraft to 46 – or roughly a third of total production.
The service intends to expand its fleet of Predators from the current three squadrons to 15. Such an expansion could make the Predator one of the largest fleets in the Air Force inventory.