Air Force Special Operations Command will be adding a new squadron to its roster at Cannon AFB, N.M., where it plans to move its current one-and-only unmanned aerial vehicle unit, the 3rd Special Operations Squadron. The 3rd SOS is up and running at Creech AFB, Nev., but AFSOC spokeswoman Denise Boyd says that plans already are in motion to move 3rd SOS from Creech to Cannon by June. Joining the 3rd SOS, which operates MQ-1 Predators, will be an AFSOC MQ-9 Reaper UAV unit, according to the just-released USAF roadmap for new system allocation (see above). Boyd did not specify a timeframe for the Reaper unit standup; however work is under way in the next few years to prepare permanent maintenance and hangar facilities to house ground control stations and UAV airframes when they return from Southwest Asia operations. AFSOC got its first 21 MQ-1s last May and some UAV-trained personnel from Air Combat Command to jump-start its UAV operations.
The Pentagon awarded a contract worth over $2 billion for the next batch of F-35 engines to Pratt & Whitney on June 5. The deal for Lot 17 F135 engines, totaling $2.02 billion, is expected to be completed by December 2025.