Surging the ISR to Theater

The Air Force is now flying 37 continuous remotely piloted vehicle combat air patrols in the US Central Command war zone, said Lt. Gen. Larry James, commander of 14th Air Force at Vandenburg AFB, Calif. The CAPs comprise 31 MQ-1 Predator patrols, five MQ-9 Reaper orbits, and a lone Global Hawk patrol, he said Thursday at AFA’s Global Warfare Symposium in Beverly Hills, Calif. USAF is augmenting this intelligence-surveillance-reconnaissance capability with the six in-theater MC-12 Liberty aircraft, an inventory that should grow to 35 aircraft by July 2010, James said. He lauded the speed with which the Air Force has met these urgent ISR needs. The unmanned CAPs are well on their way to Defense Secretary Robert Gates’ goal of 50 around-the-clock orbits in 2011, and the MC-12 went from concept to operational fielding in just 10 months.