|First MQ-9 Reaper makes its home on Nevada flightline|
by Senior Airman Travis Edwards
99th Air Base Wing Public Affairs
3/14/2007 - NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. (AFNEWS) -- The MQ-1 Predator Unmanned Aerial Vehicle's younger, yet larger and stronger, brother, the MQ-9 Reaper arrived March 13 at its new home at Creech Air Force Base, Nev.
The remotely piloted aircraft completed initial testing in California, then flew more than 250 miles in two hours to land here. The aircraft was piloted by Lt. Col. Jon Greene, 42nd Attack Squadron commander. Along side him, was his sensor operator Senior Airman Aaron Aguilar, also of the 42nd ATKS.
"I am truly honored to be the commander of the Air Force's first MQ-9 attack squadron," said Colonel Greene. Our mission is to train MQ-9 crews and fly combat by this summer. Bringing the MQ-9 on line is going to take a fresh view on how we, as Airmen, train and employ."
The Reaper's turboprop engine is able to run at 250 knots, can fly up to 40,000 feet and is able to stay in the air for more than 20 hours.
The newly arrived Reaper will begin flying training missions here by March 19 and the first formal training unit class will begin shortly after, Colonel Green said.
"One of the big differences between the Reaper and the Predator is the Predator can only carry about 200 pounds (of ordnance). The Reaper however, can carry one and a half tons, and on top of carrying Hellfire missiles, can carry multiple GBU-12 laser-guided bombs," said Capt. Michael Lewis, 42nd ATKS flight scheduler.
By 2009, the 42nd ATKS should have 18 Reapers assigned for training and deployment purposes. The plan is for the Reapers to deploy by the beginning of summer, Colonel Greene said.
Currently, the 42nd ATKS works under the 57th Operations Group in the 57th Wing. By May 1, the squadron should fall under the 432nd Wing, the first wing totally dedicated to Predator and Reaper operations.
"My squadron is excited about the opportunity of molding new pilots and sensor operators into razor-sharp, combat-ready aircrews. We will also develop the first-ever MQ-9 tactics, techniques and procedures to use in the current fight as well as any potential future conflicts," Colonel Greene said.
"I am very proud of the Airmen in my squadron who have worked very hard to meet our goals and I look forward to embarking on this new era of air and space power," he said.
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