Predator, Reaper CAPs Soaring

The Air Force is now operating 34 combat air patrols of MQ-1 Predators and MQ-9 Reapers in the US Central Command area of responsibility, a veritable explosion of unmanned activity compared to just a few years ago, Col. John Montgomery, vice commander of the 432nd Wing, told visiting reporters at Creech AFB, Nev., Wednesday. Montgomery said his unit, USAF’s sole unmanned aerial vehicle wing, was originally scheduled to be able to provide 12 CAPs by Fiscal 2010. But, it has already more than tripled that number and is on course for 50 CAPs in Fiscal 2012, per the direction of the Air Force leadership, which began a major push in 2007 to surge UAV capability to the war theater to provide more overhead intelligence-surveillance-reconnaissance capability. Montgomery said the Predator’s and Reaper’s ability to carry out persistent ISR monitoring of targets across the AOR has made both the them “completely invaluable” to the prosecution of the fight in both Iraq and Afghanistan.