Back in the Nevada Desert

More than 40 US and British airmen of the 432nd Wing at Creech AFB, Nev., returned home last month after a several-month deployment to Joint Base Balad, Iraq, where they maintained the MQ-9 Reaper unmanned aerial vehicles assigned to the 46th Expeditionary Reconnaissance and Attack Squadron. This contingent of Air Force and Royal Air Force personnel formed the first MQ-9 aircraft maintenance unit to deploy to the combat theater to sustain the Reapers, which began operating from Balad last July. Previously contractor personnel from MQ-9 manufacturer General Atomics Aeronautical Systems maintained the UAVs there. From the beginning of October, to the beginning of December, the unit generated 56 MQ-9 sorties that comprised 623.5 flying hours. “We only activated the Reaper AMU in February 2008, so to see them overcome the training and logistical challenges that presented, and to perform so magnificently in the [area of responsibility] makes me very proud to be associated with them,” said Col. Michael Stickney, commander of the 432nd Maintenance Group. (Creech report by SSgt. Alice Moore)