The Air Force made history on two fronts on Jan. 27 when an unarmed Predator remotely piloted aircraft took off from an airport near Aquadilla, Puerto Rico, to fly a surveillance mission over earthquake-ravaged Haiti. This mission marked the first use of the Predator in support of humanitarian-assistance operations. And it was the first time that an RPA operated from an active civilian airport, taking turns on the runway with the civilian and commercial air traffic, according to Air Force officials. About 50 airmen and six Predators deployed to Puerto Rico Jan. 18. From there, they are flying a continuous orbit of coverage over Haiti. “Our job is to get the [Predator’s] video camera where international aid workers cannot reach to identify people and places most in need,” said Maj. Jeff Bright, who is commanding the Predator detachment in Puerto Rico. (Aquadilla report by Capt. Nathan D. Broshear)
The Air Force isn’t giving up on its long-frustrated efforts to retire older aircraft, as the department’s leader continues to talk with lawmakers about plans to free up funds for its modernization efforts, Undersecretary of the Air Force Gina Ortiz Jones said Nov. 30.