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News > First Airmen acquire Reaper maintenance responsibility in Afghanistan
 
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First OEF Reaper maintainers
Staff Sgt. Justin marshalls an MQ-9 Reaper after it returned Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan, from a mission Dec. 1, 2010. Airmen accepted control of the MQ-9 maintenance operations this day making them the first military members to work on the aircraft for Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan. Sergeant Justin, from Creech Air Force Base, Nev., is a tactical aircraft maintenance craftsman assigned to the 451st Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Squadron MQ-9 Aircraft Maintenance Unit. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Chad Chisholm/Released)
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First Airmen acquire Reaper maintenance responsibility in Afghanistan

Posted 12/2/2010   Updated 12/2/2010 Email story   Print story

    


by Senior Airman Melissa B. White
451st Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs


12/2/2010 - KANDADHAR AIRFIELD, Afghanistan -- Airmen assumed responsibility of MQ-9 Reaper maintenance operations Dec. 1 at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan.

The nearly 75 Airmen replaced a civilian contract force, making them the first military members to maintain MQ-9s since they entered combat operations in Afghanistan for Operation Enduring Freedom.

"We're really excited to be here to be able to do this," said Captain Matthew, 451st Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Squadron MQ-9 Aircraft Maintenance Unit officer. "We're doing a job and we're here to support an important part of the mission. I believe this type of aircraft is the future of the Air Force."

The MQ-9 is an unmanned aircraft system that provides close-air support and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance information for ground commanders to help troops in contact with enemy forces.

"It's rewarding to be here supporting this mission. My brother is a Marine, so that makes me appreciate my job and what I do because we're saving and protecting the guys on the ground every day," said Staff Sgt. Daniel, 451st EAMXS MQ-9 AMU electrical and environmental systems specialist. "The other day we were volunteering at the Role 3 Hospital and a helicopter came in and we saw a pararescueman giving a patient CPR right in front of us, and I was like, "wow, this is what we are all out here supporting and we're helping people and saving lives.'"

The MQ-9 is similar to the MQ-1 Predator, but is newer, larger and more powerful. The aircraft in remotely operated by a pilot and also has an enlisted aircrew member to operate sensors, but it still requires hands-on maintenance to keep it flying.

"The Reaper is an upgraded version of the MQ-1 - kind of like its big brother - but, like the Predator, it is very simplistic and maintenance friendly because we don't have to maintain any systems to support a pilot," said Captain Matthew. "We can do anything the Air Force wants us to do; we're flexible, adaptable and ready to take on this mission."



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