U.S. Tests RPA Pilots Bomb Hunting Skills

  • Our Bureau
  • 02:35 PM, July 5, 2013
  • 2580

The USAFs Remotely Piloted Aircraft pilots, sensor operators and intelligence Airmen performed together at a Nevada Test and Training Range to check on their skills with live bomb drops.

The 432nd Wing Hunt, formerly known as Gun Smoke, consisted of 18 teams from 14 squadrons - 10 MQ-9 Reaper teams and the rest with the MQ-1 Predator, according to officials. 

Each team was comprised of a pilot, sensor operator, and intelligence Airman, who worked together to formulate a mission plan, evaluate threats, and develop a strategy to execute the mission effectively.

"It was a total force integration effort with local, geographically separated units and Air Force Reserve units," said Capt. Marcus from the 432nd Operations Support Squadron. "Due to the fiscal constraints, we limited the competition to only aircrews that could do Remote Split Operations from the local area, saving thousands of dollars."

This type of training and friendly competition affords the teams and each individual a scenario they could encounter down range.

"Training on the Nellis Test and Training Range allows RPA crews who typically fly in Afghanistan to practice against different threats and mission sets," Marcus said. "The 432nd Wing Hunt prepares crews for this fight, as well as the next one."

To further the realism and intense competition live GBU-12s, a 500lb laser-guided bomb, were dropped by the MQ-9 in the southern ranges.

"For most of these crews, it was the first time they dropped a live GBU-12," Marcus said. "It's important to give the crews an opportunity to test their skills, and practice tactics before having to go into the next combat environment."

The 432nd Wing Hunt also provides an opportunity for the RPA members to build camaraderie while challenging the squadrons in a realistic and tactical environment.

"Oftentimes, the RPA community fights to train, whereas most military units train to fight," Marcus said. "This competition promotes esprit de corps with a challenging scenario meant to test crew's knowledge, mission planning, and execution to be the best."