23 Februari 2015
A USAF armament systems specialist inspects an MQ-9 Reaper. (photo : USAF)
A detachment of RAAF personnel has commenced training on the General Atomics MQ-9B Reaper unmanned system at two US bases.
Although not yet formally announced as an ADF requirement of project, six RAAF personnel are training on the system at Holloman AFB in New Mexico and Creech AFB near Las Vegas.
Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Defence, Darren Chester, announced the training detachment at the Chief of Air Force’s Symposium in Melbourne yesterday. “Unmanned aerial systems are an advancing technology with a proven record of providing ‘eyes in the sky’ in the Middle East region,” Mr Chester said.
“It would be remiss of Australia not to continue to develop our knowledge of this technology to ensure we are able to gain the greatest benefit from unmanned aerial systems and the best protection for our troops on future operations.”
Yet to be announced but strongly rumoured to be under serious consideration by this year’s Force Structure Review and Defence White Paper (FSR/DWP) is the nascent Project AIR 7100 which will see an unknown number of medium altitude long endurance (MALE) unmanned aircraft and ground control systems in the Predator/Reaper class acquired.
Interest in such a capability was first flagged by the Chief of Capability Defence Group, LTGEN John Caligari at a Williams Foundation seminar in 2013, but no Defence Capability Plan (DCP) has been published since then.