Persistent Stare

Col. Peter Gersten, a former F-16 pilot and now commander of USAF’s first combat remotely piloted vehicle unit—the 432nd Wing at Creech AFB, Nev.—says his airmen are constantly working “all by themselves” to provide more and better intelligence for the ground warfighters. “Better every day is kind of a theme here,” he said in an American Forces Press Service interview recently. Gersten extolled RPV persistent stare capability, noting that, unlike manned fighters such as the F-16 he flew, “we are not going 500 miles an hour; we are going 120 knots, right on top of him [the ground warfighter], and we are orbiting around him and helping him.” He added, “We are dedicated to supporting him, and we don’t do anything else.” Gersten emphasized, too, that for his RPV airmen, “Time is not our enemy; we own time.” (AFPS report by Donna Miles)