New York Air National Guard trains drone pilots
The MQ-9 Reaper flight training school at Hancock Field Air National Guard base has graduated its first series of active duty Air Force MQ-9 operators since the program was established in November 2011.
Ten active duty Air Force pilots and ten sensor operators have completed the program at the MQ-9 Formal Training Unit run by the New York Air National Guard’s 174th Fighter Wing from February through May 2012.
The 174th is responsible for training all MQ-9 pilot/sensor operator teams in the Air Force, Air Force Reserve, and Air National Guard, and allied air forces.
“We are proud of training the next generation of MQ-9 aircrew from across the Air Force right here at Hancock Field,” said Col. Greg Semmel, 174th Fighter Wing Commander and Hancock Field Installation Commander. “This mission is particularly important due to the ongoing impact that the MQ-9 has had on protecting the lives of American troops on the battlefield.”
The 174th has also been training all MQ-9 maintenance technicians for the active Air Force, Air Force Reserve, Air National Guard and allied nations since 2009.
The FTU trains approximately 80 airmen each year to employ the MQ-9 and awards the aircrew with an initial qualification on the weapon system.
The initial qualification training lasts approximately three and a half months, and consists of approximately 100 hours of classroom academics, 40 hours of simulator instruction, and 30 hours of flight training. Upon completion of the FTU, the pilots and sensor operators return to their home-station for mission specific training to become combat ready aircrew.
The 174th maintains a launch and recovery facility at Wheeler-Sack Army Airfield at Fort Drum from which MQ-9 students fly training missions. The aircraft takes off and lands with highly experienced aircrew under a direct line-of-site control. When they reach operating altitude a FTU student pilot manning a ground based cockpit at Hancock Field takes command via satellite downlink control system.
While the student pilots are learning to fly the aircraft using different training scenarios the enlisted sensor operators are learning how to operate the sophisticated sensor equipment on the MQ-9 which allows both aircrew members to assist troops on the ground with information and precision weapons strikes.
Along with providing MQ-9 training for the Air Force, the 174th Fighter Wing conducts MQ-9 operations over Afghanistan on a daily basis from a command facility at the base. Airmen assigned to Hancock Air National Guard also provide support for other Air Force and Air National Guard missions around the world and here at home.
The MQ-9 Reaper is an armed, multi-mission, medium-altitude, long endurance remotely piloted aircraft that is employed primarily in a hunter/killer role against dynamic execution targets and secondarily as an intelligence collection asset. Given its significant loiter time, wide-range sensors, multi-mode communications suite, and precision weapons — it provides a unique capability to autonomously execute the kill chain (find, fix, track, target, execute, and assess) against high value, fleeting, and time sensitive targets.
Reapers can also perform the following missions and tasks: intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, close air support, combat search and rescue, precision strike, buddy-laser, convoy/raid overwatch, route clearance, target development, and terminal air guidance. The MQ-9′s capabilities make it uniquely qualified to conduct irregular warfare operations in support of Combatant Commander objectives.
The Reaper is part of an Unmanned Aircraft System, or UAS, not just an aircraft. A fully operational system consists of several sensor/weapon-equipped aircraft, a ground control station, a Predator Primary Satellite Link, and spare equipment along with operations and maintenance crews for deployed 24-hour operations. The basic crew consists of a rated pilot to control the aircraft and command the mission and an enlisted aircrew member to operate sensors and weapons plus a mission coordinator, when required. To meet combatant commanders’ requirements, the Reaper delivers tailored capabilities using mission kits containing various weapons and sensor payload combinations.
The MQ-9 baseline system carries the Multi-spectral Targeting System, or MTS-B, which has a robust suite of visual sensors for targeting. The MTS-B integrates an infrared sensor, a color/monochrome daylight TV camera, an image-intensified TV camera, a laser designator and a laser illuminator into a single package. The full motion video from each of the imaging sensors can be viewed as separate video streams or fused together.
The unit also incorporates a laser rangefinder/designator which provides the capability to precisely designate targets for employment of laser-guided munitions, such as the GBU-12 Paveway II. The Reaper is also equipped with a synthetic aperture radar to enable GBU-38 Joint Direct Attack Munitions targeting. The MQ-9 can also employ four laser-guided AGM-114 Hellfire missiles which possess highly accurate, low collateral damage, anti-armor and anti-personnel engagement capabilities.
Read more: http://www.dvidshub.net/news/89329/new-york-air-national-guards-174th-fighter-wing-trains-mq-9-pilots-and-sensor-operators-entire-air-force#.T8y8XrBYuVo#ixzz1wphYFvtG
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