The remotely piloted MQ-1 Predator aircraft officially will retire this summer.

The Air Force has found something younger ― and a bit larger ― with more horsepower and better sensors, that can fly higher and faster, and carry more ordnance: the MQ-9 Reaper.

The phase-out of the MQ-1 already has started, so it’s an appropriate time to say thank you to the Predator for 20-plus years of selfless service.

The Predator was the original unmanned recon and intel drone, and has helped keep troops safe the past two decades. It wasn’t designed to carry weapons, but it did, and it has quite an impressive hit list.

“The Predator has been a workhorse in Iraq, Afghanistan and the fight against ISIS.” said Lt. Col. Douglas, 361st Expeditionary Attack Squadron commander, in an Air Force press release. “When you see the results everyday on the battlefield, it’s unfathomable at times.”

Though the Air Force will save money using the MQ-9 full-time, we can’t say goodbye without saying thanks to the Predator for paving the way.

“It’s a very humble aircraft, but we’ve brought a lot to the fight with its modest capabilities,” Douglas said. “The aircraft’s mission is tremendous and it has opened the doors to the future.”

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