Defense

July 7, 2014

RPA unit moves to ‘Emerald Coast’

Airmen prepare an MQ-9 Reaper for flight during Combat Hammer May 15, 2014, at Creech Air Force Base, Nev. Fighter, bomber and remotely piloted aircraft units around the Air Force are evaluated four times a year and provided weapons, airspace and targets from Hill AFB, Utah, or Eglin AFB, Fla. Steven and Taylor are MQ-9 crew chiefs with the 432nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron.

The 919th Special Operations Wing welcomed the 2nd Special Operations Squadron, its remotely piloted aircraft unit, to the Emerald Coast.

The 2nd SOS, comprised of about 140 Air Force reservists formerly located at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., began RPA operations in its new facility at Hurlburt Field, Fla., June 14. Although the unit is at Hurlburt Field, none of the aircraft will be located there. The RPAs are flown in various combat theaters throughout the world.

The 2nd SOS Airmen are associated with their active-duty counterparts in the 3rd SOS, who are assigned to Air Force Special Operations Command’s 27th SOW at Cannon AFB, N.M.

Along with the change of scenery, the squadron changed its aircraft as well, transitioning from the MQ-1 Predator to the MQ-9 Reaper aircraft a couple of months ago.

The squadron’s arrival marks the introduction of RPA operations to Hurlburt Field. In 2009, when the 2nd SOS was first activated at Nellis, most of Air Force RPA functions, including AFSOC RPA, were centralized in Nevada. Now that AFSOC’s RPA enterprise has migrated to its facilities, the move to Hurlburt completes the process of placing AFSOC RPA operations on AFSOC bases.

Since its inception, the 2nd SOS has flown 57,225 hours on 2,346 combat support sorties.




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