Predator Fleet To Expand
Air Force officials
plan to expand the current Predator Unmanned Aerial Vehicle fleet
to as many as 15 squadrons.
This increase, announced March 18, is in response to the
escalating demand for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance
capability in the war on terrorism. The plans are intended to
ensure an increased number of Predators are available in U.S.
Central Command's area of responsibility as well as for new
opportunities, officials said.
"Combating terrorism requires the Air Force provide worldwide
vigilance and awareness through persistent command, control and
surveillance capabilities, ensuring our nation's ability to see
first, understand first and act first. Our effort in regard to UAVs
is just one more capability that allows us to ensure air dominance
for our joint team in any environment we operate," said Peter B.
Teets, acting secretary of the Air Force.
In a Future Total Force initiative that will establish two Air
National Guard Predator units in Texas and Arizona, Air Force
officials are determining manpower and training requirements that
will significantly enhance the Predator's ability to support
combatant commander requirements. ANG Airmen will operate the UAVs
from their respective states. Additionally, Air Force officials
plan to place a Predator squadron with an ANG unit in New York.
One of the six Future Total Force initiatives involved
establishing a distributive ground station in western New York to
process global intelligence information. After assessing
intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance requirements and
reviewing concepts of operation, Air Force and Air National Guard
leaders determined establishing a Predator unit in New York would
provide a more immediate impact to the war on terrorism, officials
"Through Future Total Force initiatives such as the expansion of
Predator units within the Air National Guard and the Air Force
Reserve, the Air Force will leverage persistent command, control,
surveillance, global mobility and rapid strike to win the global
war on terrorism, and strengthen joint warfighting capabilities,
while minimizing risk to the nation," said Lt. Gen. Stephen G.
Wood, Air Force deputy chief of staff for plans and programs.
Besides the ANG Predator units, the Air Force currently has
three operational, active-duty Predator squadrons located at Nellis
Air Force Base and Indian Springs Air Force Auxiliary Field in
Nevada. Air Force Special Operations Command and Air Force Reserve
Command Airmen also will operate Predators out of Indian