The UK Royal Air Force activated its first unmanned aerial vehicle unit, No. 39 Squadron, on Jan. 23 at Creech AFB, Nev. Air Marshal Iain McNicholl, RAF’s deputy commander in chief of operations, presided over the ceremony. RAF personnel have been at Creech since 2004 as part of the Joint Predator Task Force. From there, they have taken part, alongside their US Air Force counterparts, in operating MQ-1 Predator and, more recently, MQ-9 Reaper UAVs. No. 39 Squadron, which also includes British Army and Navy personnel, will operate the RAF’s MQ-9 Reapers and remain involved with Predator operations. The RAF currently has three MQ-9s in its inventory, one of which is already flying in Afghanistan in support of ISAF. The remaining two will deploy there in 2008, according to the RAF. The UK is interested in acquiring 10 more Reapers; the Pentagon announced the potential foreign military sale on Jan. 3. (Includes USAF report by 2nd Lt. Jennifer Richard)
An Air Force C-17 transport jet recently tested a new technology that could help aviators stay on course even if the satellite-based Global Positioning System (GPS) that much of modern-day aviation relies on is compromised.