Predator Patrols to Nearly Double by 2010

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The Air Force is seeking the acceleration in fielding of Combat Air Patrols (CAP) maintained by MQ-1 armed Predator Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, from 12 orbits currently operating in Iraq and Southwest Asia to 21 Predator combat air patrols by December 2009. Three additional CAPs will be deployed soon to Iraq, boosting full motion video and rapid strike capability to the Joint Force Commander. Two of these CAPs are expected to be active this summer or early fall 2007. Currently, Airmen operate 12 Predator CAPs providing combat capability to joint forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. The USAF operates all its Predator UAVs with the 432 Tactical Wing at Creech Air Force Base, Nevada. Additional Predators have been fielded with the Air National Guard.

Each Predator CAP provides 24-hour, seven days a week combat operations. Aircraft are deployed in forward operating bases in the Middle East and SouthWest Asia, including Iraq and Afghanistan. They are flown by both active duty and Air National Guard personnel through secure communications to bases in Nevada, California, North Dakota and Arizona.

The Predator is an armed multi-role intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance asset with sophisticated sensors and weapons delivering critical combat capability to U.S and U.K. forces in both Iraq and Afghanistan. This weapon system has the capability to find, track, and, if necessary, strike an enemy threat with immediate effect. This type of tactical agility is imperative to neutralize insurgent activity. The U.S. Air Force's Predator is the most requested medium or high altitude UAV in the U.S. Central Command theater of operations.

The larger Reaper (Predator B) will augment the Predator CAPs in both theaters of operation starting in late 2007. The first deployment of the MQ-9 is expected in AFghanistan during the second half of 2007, subsequently it will be fielded in Iraq, probably with the Predators stationed at Balad airbase, by late 2007 or early 2008.


 


 

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