Local

November 15, 2013

Two million flight hours tip of untapped RPA capabilities

LAS VEGAS. — Reaching 2 million flight hours for the remotely piloted aircraft community was just the beginning of the still untapped capabilities of the systems and program.

This feat continues to expand the future of the RPA community with infinite possibilities.

Col. James Cluff, 432nd Wing/Air Expeditionary Wing commander, said hitting a milestone with such significance as this, really highlights the tremendous potential of remotely piloted aircraft and its technology.

“For our allies, it is one more opportunity for combined operations and increased chances for interoperability,” he said. “It also highlights that the true strength of our military is our people – this achievement was a direct result of dedicated, innovative Airmen who were given a challenge and did not limit their thinking as they solved a problem. It proves that this is not an ‘unmanned’ system – very far from it. Our people made this possible.”

Misconceptions abound about the RPA community promoting the notion of using the RPA technology to replace current manned assets in the Air Force inventory.

“There is nothing further from the truth,” Cluff said. “Those of us who are part of this amazing enterprise are the first to admit that RPAs have limitations, and that there are some missions and mission areas where we are not capable. The RPA community is a complement to manned assets, not a replacement. We are just one more arrow in the joint warfighter’s quiver.”

When talking about the future of the program, Cluff said, as the community advances forward, it’s important to take what accomplishments have already been achieved and capitalize on those.

“The Marine Corps have used RPAs to move supplies around the battlefield; the Navy is starting to develop remotely piloted capability in order to defend ships,” he said. “We recently saw the use of an MQ-1 as a tool to help fight the Yosemite forest fire. While there are definitely some missions where the technology is not mature enough to use remotely piloted assets such as air-to-air combat, in other areas I think we are more limited by either our current fiscal challenges like air refueling for, or our cultural expectations, the transporting of personnel by unmanned vehicles, than we are by technology.”

The best way to reassure people that RPAs are not used to invade privacy, Cluff said, is by telling the RPA story and exposing citizens to the incredible capabilities.

“I think their fears are a direct result of not being accurately informed rather than as a result of any misdeeds by the military in our employment of this capability,” he said. “We are very cognizant of the federal law with respect to use of military intelligence assets inside the borders of the United States.”

Over the life time of the program, RPA’s have provided support not only to war time missions but have provided immense support to humanitarian operations.

“It would not have been possible for the U.S. Air Force to provide the amount of multi-role support that the joint warfighter needed without the use of remotely piloted aircraft,” Cluff said. “And without a doubt, those 2 million hours of RPA support have directly saved thousands of American and allied lives.

“It should not really surprise anyone that there are significant capabilities that RPAs bring to humanitarian operations. The U.S. military, active duty and the total force, has for years been able to use tools of warfare and adapt their use in order to save lives. Just like in wartime operations, RPAs are proving to be an outstanding complement to manned assets in the area of humanitarian relief and defense support to civil authorities,” he added.

As the role of the Air Force has changed during the last decade, so has the capability of RPA’s to adapt to the ever changing mission set that they face.

“I think the past 10 years have demonstrated that RPAs are a perfect match for the total force,” Cluff said. “The ability to fly combat/operational support missions from stateside allows our total force [Airmen] to continue to support our combatant commanders on a daily basis without having to leave home or be mobilized. Additionally, the use of an MQ-1 to help fight forest fires, as well as recent use of an MQ-9 to perform search and rescue, demonstrates how valuable of an asset RPAs can be for a state beyond just being a combat asset. They are truly multi-role assets, and I fully expect more and more governors to request RPA units and capability for their states.”

Editor’s note: This article is part four of a four-part series.




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 
U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Mikaley Towle

57th AMXS TSgt saves AF $5 million

U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Mikaley Towle Tech. Sgt. Dennis Hertlein, 57th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron Viper Aircraft Maintenance Unit specialist expediter, poses in front of an F-16 Fighting Falcon at Nellis Air...
 
 

NTTR supports first F-35B integration into USMC’s weapons school exercise

NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. — The Nevada Test and Training Range was part of history April 21, when four U.S. Marine Corps-assigned F-35B Lightning IIs participated in its first Marine Corps’ Final Exercise of the Weapons and Tactics Instructor course on the NTTR’s ranges. The Final Exercise, or FINEX, is the capstone event to...
 
 
earth-day

Nellis celebrates Earth, Arbor Days

Lt. Col. Brian Hartless (far right), 99th Civil Engineer Squadron commander, joins distinguished guests at the Earth and Arbor Day 2015 celebration in planting a new tree at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., April 20. Nellis AFB is ...
 

 
New-Page-9

NAFB invited to ‘Move With a Medic’

Lisa Stammers, 99th Medical Group continuing medical education coordinator, Jessica Johnson, 99th MDG clinical health promotion coordinator, and Staff Sgt. Heather McClendon, 99th MDG NCO in charge of graduate medical education...
 
 
5K

Collaborative 5K ‘Breaks Silence’ on sexual assault, child abuse, alcohol abuse

Members of the 99th Security Forces Squadron run in formation during the Break the Silence 5K at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., April 17. The Family Advocacy program, Sexual Assault Response Coordinator, and the Alcohol and Drug ...
 
 
DT7

Pharmacy provides exceptional patient care

U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jake Carter James Duggins, a volunteer at the satellite pharmacy, scans a bar code on a bin used for pharmacy supplies at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., April 17. At the satellite pharmacy...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>


Directory powered by Business Directory Plugin