The 15th Reconnaissance Squadron at Creech AFB, Nev., reached another milestone in its MQ-1 Predator unmanned aerial vehicles operations in May by surpassing the 5,000 flight-hour mark for the first time in a single month. In total, the unit’s Predators accumulated 5,397 combat flight hours that month while supporting US military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. “This milestone is a true testament of the increased demands of the unblinking eye the Predator provides,” said Col. Pete Gersten, commander of both the 432nd Wing and 432nd Air Expeditionary Wing under which the squadron falls. In 2008, the squadron’s monthly total averaged 3,552 hours. Prior to May, the unit had averaged 4,711 hours per month in 2009. Lt. Col. Robert Kiebler, commander of the 15th RS, said he was “extremely proud” of his airmen. “Their continuous dedication, commitment, and professionalism to the mission has enabled us to continuously support the troops on the ground 24 hours a day, 356 days a year,” he said. Back in February, the 15th RS flew the Predator mission during which the US military’s total Predator fleet surpassed 500,000 total flight hours. (Creech report by SSgt. Alice Moore)
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.