UAS operations critical in war on terror

Dec. 16, 2008 at 9:45 PM
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CREECH AIR FORCE BASE, Neb., Dec. 16 (UPI) -- The head of the U.S. Air Force, during a visit to bases in Nevada, called the evolving role of unmanned aerial systems crucial in the war on terror.

Gen. Norton Schwartz, Air Force chief of staff, during a recent visit to Creech and Nellis Air Force bases in Nevada, met with top officials and airmen running the Air Force's UAS operations. Schwartz said the UAS technology will play an increasingly vital role in helping secure Afghanistan and fight the global war on terror, the Air Force reported.

The Air Force's MQ-1 Predator and MQ-9 Reaper UAS operations physically take place in Afghanistan while the aircraft are piloted via satellite by airmen in Nevada. The Air Force has increased its use of the Predator and Reaper in the dangerous border area between Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The UAS aircraft are equipped with advanced communication technologies that provide intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities. The aircraft also are equipped with precisions missiles that with increased use have drawn criticism from leaders in Pakistan and elsewhere.

"UAS is a game-changing capability and vital to the global war on terrorism, and it is no surprise that these systems are in such high demand with the combatant commanders," Schwartz said in a statement.

"We know this demand has created some challenges, and the airmen here at Creech have stepped up in answering those challenges."

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