Defense

February 15, 2017
 

MQ-9 participates in Red Flag 17-1, integrates with F-35

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Senior Airman Christian Clausen
Creech AFB, Nev.

An MQ-9 Reaper flies during a training mission Jan. 28, 2016, at Creech Air Force Base, Nev. The MQ-9 integrated with the F-35A Lightning II during Red Flag 17-1 for the first time.

Two MQ-9 Reapers and multiple aircrews from the 432nd Wing/432nd Air Expeditionary Wing at Creech Air Force Base, Nev., participated in Red Flag 17-1 from Jan. 23 to Feb. 10, 2017, at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev.

This was the first time the MQ-9 and F-35A Lightning II have integrated in a Red Flag.

“Specifically for this Red Flag our desire and objectives were to integrate in combat search and rescue missions,” said Capt. Joseph, 42nd Attack Squadron pilot. “We wanted to demonstrate that we are a capable and feasible aircraft to provide on-scene command during a CSAR event.”

The MQ-9 aircrews also provided air interdiction and dynamic targeting mission sets as well to track simulated enemies, report and eliminate if needed.

While the MQ-9 provided their capabilities, the F-35 provided defense for the MQ-9 aircrew.

“The F-35, on the times we worked together, provided suppression of enemy air defense and coverage in order to execute our mission,” Joseph said. “They would take out any surface-to-air missiles or air-to-air threats, protecting us (if needed).”

During the exercise the MQ-9 crews and F-35 crews were learning about how to integrate with each other.

An F-35A Lightning II takes off for a training mission as part of Red Flag 17-1 Feb. 2, 2017, at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev. During the exercise, the F-35 provided suppression of enemy air defense for the MQ-9 Reaper.

“The biggest education point was how to communicate effectively to each other what our desires are and how to get the same results,” Jacob said.

Jacob said while they are unfamiliar with the F-35 as a weapons system because they are so new, the overall combination was a success.

“Overall the integration went very well,” he said. “They gave us a lot of security while we accomplished our mission.”

During the exercise, MQ-9 crews also provided simulated munitions to take out simulated ballistic systems and eliminated enemies approaching a downed pilot during a CSAR mission.

“Exercises like Red Flag shows the Combined Air Forces that we bring a lot to the fight and show how we’re able to integrate in a strike package,” Jacob said.




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