According to Air Force Capt. Jonathan Songer, coalition forces simply “can’t get enough” of the Predator unmanned aerial vehicle. Songer, who currently commands the Predator launch and recovery element in Afghanistan, says the Predators finds improvised explosive devices and insurgents getting ready to fire rockets and tells coalition forces preparing for a raid what route to take and which window to enter. Songer and his team maintain the Predators in theater and get them into the air (and back down), passing control during a mission to operators back at Nellis AFB, Nev.
The Air Force overall reduced its size by 120 aircraft in fiscal year 2021, but kept about the same number of fighter, bomber and attack aircraft, according to data supplied by the service. The F-35 fleet saw the biggest increase while the B-1B bomber fleet saw the largest decline.