RPAs and the Hunt for ISIS

The 432nd Wing at Creech AFB, Nev., has played a critical role in the air campaign against ISIS forces, according to a recent operations update. Several wing officials, speaking on background about the role the unit’s remotely piloted aircraft have played in the campaign since August 2014, note the initial phase of Operation Inherent Resolve focused on ISR gathering, then grew into proactive support of real-time operations. Since the start of OIR, wing aircrews and assets have contributed some 4,300 sorties and employed some 1,000 weapons on targets; as of Aug. 7, a total of 10,684 targets have been struck in OIR, states the release. Remotely piloted aircraft operators are able to use multiple avenues of communications, such as computers, phones, and airborne radio, to integrate with other in-theater assets. For example, some 400 “buddy lase” events—where RPAs use a combat laser to guide weapons on target, while another aircraft releases the weapons—were carried out by MQ-1 Predator and MQ-9 Reaper aircrews. As a result, RPA crews have made great strides in optimizing the strengths and weaknesses of various communications mediums and links with other assets, states the release.