The Predator MQ-1B has been busy, according to the Air Force. How busy? Airmen operating the unmanned aerial vehicle have logged,in the past year, an unprecedented 27,000 hours supporting operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. Members of the 15th Reconnaissance Squadron, Nellis AFB, Nev., believe that they are the only flying squadron in the service that can claim that many flying hours from June 2004 to June 2005. Compare those numbers with 20,000 hours in 2004 and a mere 9,500 in 2003. The aircraft is so popular that the unit’s commander is having a hard time keeping up with requests. “The Army and Marines have an insatiable appetite for full-motion video the Predator supplies,” said Lt. Col. M.E. Bannon, 15th RS director of operations. “Currently, there is a daily request for more than 300 hours of video a day, and we can only provide about 110 hours. That’s a big shortfall.”
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.