Remotely piloted aircraft crews participated in a series of simulated combat missions over the Nevada Test and Training Range as part of the second RPA weapons competition. The 432nd Wing at Creech AFB, Nev., hosted the second installment of its “Wing Hunt,” formerly known as Gun Smoke, June 23-28, according to a July 4 wing release. This year’s competition included 18 teams from 14 squadrons across the Air Force that operate MQ-9 Reapers and MQ-1 Predators. Each team featured a pilot, sensor operator, and intelligence airman who built a mission plan, evaluated threats, and developed a strategy to carry out each sortie, states the release. “Oftentimes, the RPA community fights to train, whereas most military units train to fight,” said one captain from the 432nd Operations Support Squadron. That’s because RPA units have been heavily tasked in the past decade for real-world operations and have not had many chances to participate in exercises at home. Wing Hunt featured drops of live GBU-12 laser guided bombs from the MQ-9s. For many crews, it was the first time they dropped a live GBU-12, states the release.
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.