Another Reaper First at Sea

MQ-9 Reapers, flown by US Air Force Weapons School pilots, conducted the first “ripple attack” against multiple maritime threats during a Weapon System Evaluation Program in Florida from March 14-17. During the exercises, which took place at Duke Field and Eglin Air Force Base, MQ-9s flew alongside Air Force fighter jets, Navy helicopters, E-8 Sentry, and U-28A surveillance aircraft to evaluate the MQ-9’s ability to use Hellfire rockets to attack maritime threats, including a scenario with as many as 35 boats, according to an Eglin release. “Air Force Reaper crews better know how to find, fix, track, target, engage, and assess maritime targets and do so in an integrated fashion,” Lt. Col. Bryan Callahan, commander of the 26th Weapons Squadron of the Weapons School at Nellis AFB, Nev., in the release. “That’s why this WSEP is so important and why it’s critical that we hit all of our shots.” The program included Reapers from the 432nd Air Expeditionary Wing at Creech AFB, Nev.; a ground control station and two Reaper teams from the Texas Air National Guard in Houston; and a Reaper Aircraft Maintenance Unit from Holloman AFB, N.M. The tests built on last year’s first from the WSEP, where a Reaper fired live weapons at maritime platforms for the first time.