CREECH AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. — Maintaining fully trained Airmen for the U.S. Air Force’s remotely piloted aircraft enterprise is a daunting task.
For Detachment 13, 372nd Training Squadron, providing follow-up training for maintenance personnel of the MQ-1B Predator and MQ-9 Reaper at Creech Air Force Base, Nevada, is a top priority.
“Det. 13 Operation Location A provides maintenance training to the remotely piloted aircraft initiative,” said Master Sgt. Christopher, Det 13. OL-A section chief. “Crew chiefs, avionics, and weapons and communications courses are offered from our staff of six Air Education and Training Command instructors.”
RPA maintainers begin training at the 372nd TRS, Sheppard AFB, Texas, where they learn technical aircraft maintenance using classroom and hands-on practical instruction. The detachment also offers training for Air National Guard, Air Force Reserve, allied forces, and students en-route to the Pacific Air Forces command.
Assigned instructors provide training on A-10 Thunderbolt II, F-15 Eagle, F-15E Strike Eagle, F-16 Fighting Falcon, F-22 Raptor, HH-60G Pave Hawk, MQ-1 and MQ-9 aircraft.
“Classes taught the most at the operating location are MQ-9 communications and MQ-9 mechanics. The commons course offers system knowledge to all RPA maintainers,” Christopher said. “The mechanics class offers advanced maintenance training on the MQ-9 systems and subsystems for crew chiefs.”
The MQ-1 and MQ-9 systems classes enhance the RPA enterprise by training the caretakers of the aircraft. The MQ-9 communications class teaches students the basic system overview and the theory of operation of the aircraft systems. In the mechanics class, the students perform hands-on maintenance on the landing gear, propeller, and airframe components.
The avionics course teaches specialists the theory of operation of electrical systems and electronics, as well as hands-on maintenance. The weapons course teaches troubleshooting and system-specific knowledge.
Approximately 12 to 20 students come through each month; currently nine students are training in three classes. Having an operating location at Creech AFB is more cost efficient compared to sending the students TDY for training.
“Providing current instruction at Creech is saving the Air Force $291,000 a year in TDY costs,” said Christopher.
Christopher went on to say the most interesting part about his job is the interactions with the students.
“Many of them are still young in the Air Force and we get to experience people from all different backgrounds,” he said.
The training implemented depends on the training that is produced this year for the 432nd Maintenance Squadron and also what is projected for the rest of the year.