Goal Of 21 UAV Patrols By End Of 2009
Air Force Chief of Staff General T. Michael Moseley is
accelerating delivery of the Defense Department's December 2009
goal of 21 daily MQ-1 Predator unmanned aerial vehicle combat air
patrols, or CAPs, by one year.
At the chief of staff's request, Air Force officials coordinated
deployment actions with the Joint Staff and Central Command to
increase three additional Predator CAPs, boosting full motion video
and rapid strike capability to the Joint Force commander in Iraq.
Two of these CAPs are expected to be active this summer or early
fall, reports Air Force Print News.
"The Predator provides a tremendous capability for our joint and
coalition forces on the ground," said Lt. Gen. David A. Deptula,
the deputy Air Force chief of staff for intelligence, surveillance
and reconnaissance. "The Air Force is pushing to expand Predator
air patrols for Admiral (William J.) Fallon's use as quickly as
Admiral Fallon is the commander of US Central Command.
Currently, Airmen operate 12 Predator CAPs providing combat
capability to joint forces in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The acceleration is possible due to the chief of staff's "total
force" approach to fielding enhanced combat capability. The
recently increased Predator training capacity, and the inclusion of
additional Air National Guard Airmen supports both increased flight
operations and a more robust exploitation of Predator data.
Predator CAP provides 24-hour, seven days a week combat operations.
They are flown by both active duty and Air National Guard personnel
through secure communications to bases in Nevada, California and
North Dakota. The Air Force also will begin flying Predator combat
operations from Arizona next week, all part of the chief of staff's
"total force" approach in combining Active, Air Force Reserve and
Air National Guard capabilities in a much more inclusive and
The Air Force continues to deploy all operational Predator
assets and will look to sustain this combat capability as new
production aircraft, ground stations and aircrew are delivered. To
fully man this new level for Central Command, the Air Force will
maintain 160 "total force" Predator crews, up from 120 last
The Predator is an armed multi-role intelligence, surveillance
and reconnaissance asset with sophisticated sensors and weapons
delivering critical combat capability to U.S. and UK forces in both
Iraq and Afghanistan. This weapon system has the capability to
find, track, and, if necessary, strike an enemy threat with
immediate effect. This type of tactical agility is imperative to
neutralize insurgent activity. The Air Force's Predator is the most
requested medium- or high-altitude UAV in the US Central Command
theater of operations.