Officials at Ellsworth AFB, S.D., have activated Det. 1 of the 28th Operations Group. The new detachment will help coordinate the ramp up to activating an MQ-9 Reaper remotely piloted aircraft squadron at the base next year. “The base itself will undergo changes to facilitate a smooth transition as the new detachment paves the way for the incoming RPA squadron,” said Col. Jeffrey Taliaferro, 28th Bomb Wing commander. He added, “We are on track with the critical events and activities that need to be completed before the squadron flies its first combat air patrol next year.” The Air Force last June announced its decision to bring an MQ-9 unit to Ellsworth. The base expects to add 280 civilian and military personnel to operate Reapers supporting contingency operations overseas. The new squadron is slated to begin operations in May 2012. (Ellsworth release)
U.S. Air Force F-35s and F-22s regularly deploy deep into the Pacific region from Alaska, Utah, and Hawaii. In the future, though, the head of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command would like to see the Air Force permanently station fifth-generation aircraft west of the international date line—closer to China.