Scant Time for Celebrating

The 432nd Wing at Creech AFB, Nev., the Air Force’s sole unmanned aerial vehicle wing, has marked its first anniversary. And what a year it has been in terms of operational tempo and expansion since the standup on May 1, 2007. Originally the wing had 618 personnel; now there are about 1,100 airmen assigned to the unit. Currently operating at surge levels, they can now provide 24 simultaneous MQ-1 Predator combat air patrols and two MQ-9 Reaper CAPs (one of which is British owned) to support operations in Afghanistan and Iraq with their current inventory of 80 Predators and nine MQ-9 air vehicles. “Supporting our brothers on the ground 24 hours a day, 365 days a year is our primary mission,” said Col. Christopher Chambliss, the wing’s commander. “These airmen are operating on a wartime tempo despite being located within the United States.” In June 2007, the Air Force had amassed 250,000 total flight hours with the Predator fleet over 12 years of use. Yet only six months later, Predators had flown more than 300,000 hours and are expected to surpass 500,000 flight hours before the end of 2009. (Creech report by Capt. Nathan Broshear)