432nd Wing/432nd AEW adds MQ-9 Reaper, MQ-1 Predator to RPAs

USAF 432nd Wing/432nd AEW has announced the reactivation of a combat unit powered by remote piloted aircraft (RPA), the organization said.

Ten years following the 432nd´s milestone of 500,000 hours of combat, the MQ-1 Predator and MQ-9 Reaper, RPAs designed for enhanced loitering capability and capable of precision strikes, and the Airmen who operate, maintain, and support it, have surpassed milestones of traditionally-manned counterparts.

Born out of combat necessity, the MQ-1 and MQ-9 platforms were being operated through traditionally-trained manned aircraft pilots. The Air Force announced the creation of the 18X, remotely piloted aircraft pilot career field training pipeline in June 2010.

The same Airmen who laid the groundwork for training, also enhanced mission capabilities through the creation of the first intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance video editing training program in 2012, which then secured the 432nd Wing/432nd Air Expeditionary Wing the 2013 Air Combat Command Meritorious Unit Award for outstanding achievement in direct support of combat operations.

While the MQ-1 and MQ-9 mission in Iraq and Syria initially focused on information gathering and battlespace awareness, the 432nd Wing´s involvement evolved, providing a persistent attack capability due to the precision effects provided by the MQ-1 and MQ-9 aircraft. Escalating in parallel with their own strikes from the MQ-1/9, the 432nd Wing has also provided a significant number of buddy lases, or a situation in which a laser-guided aircraft provides the final guidance from another aircraft, proving the platforms´ ability to integrate with traditional aircraft, such as the A-10 Warthog, F-15E Strike Eagle and F-16 Viper.

The stand-up of the MSG enabled the 432nd Wing/432nd AEW commander, Col. Stephen Jones, to gain installation command authority of Creech AFB, which previously served as an auxiliary of Nellis AFB.

The growth and development of infrastructure for Creech AFB ties directly to the demand of the MQ-9 and the Airmen who enable its mission. The longevity of the Reaper, and the pursuit of greater utilization of its capabilities, is evident when looking forward to 2020.

The 432d Wing is a United States Air Force unit assigned to Air Combat Command, stationed at Creech Air Force Base, Nevada. The group operates unmanned reconnaissance aircraft which provide real-time reconnaissance, surveillance, and precision attack against fixed and time-critical targets.