Creech Will Retain Some Predators

Even with a surge in MQ-1 Predator aircraft forward to support combat operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, some of the unmanned aerial vehicles will remain stateside at Creech AFB, Nev., for training, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported March 26. “There will be ample airframes at Creech to provide training,” Air Combat Command spokesman Maj. Tom Crosson told the newspaper. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has pressured the Air Force to deploy as many Predators as possible to Southwest Asia to support ground forces there. While Air Force officials have said they are doing all they can to support the warfighters with the streaming, life-saving video that the Predators provide, they have warned that deploying every single asset would have severe repercussions on the training of Predator operators and the long-term cohesion of the MQ-1 fleet. That said, since last year, the Air Force has nearly tripled the number of Predator combat air patrols, Crosson told the newspaper. In January, Gates directed the Air Force to go beyond the 21 combat air patrols and stand up 24 by June, a goal which USAF is on track to meet, Crosson said.