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178th transitions to MQ-9 Reaper mission

SPRINGFIELD, Ohio --

After a year of transition, the 178th Wing will have completed the transition from the MQ-1B Predator to the MQ-9 Reaper Dec. 6 here.

The 178th Wing started flying the MQ-1B Jan. 2012 as a part of the intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance mission. 

With the transition to the MQ-9, the 178th Wing will be enhanced with more mission capabilities.

 “The MQ-9 will open up a whole new set of tactical capabilities that will allow us to take the fight to the enemy in a greater capacity,” said Col. Chad McGarry, the commander assigned to the 178th Operations Group.

 The MQ-9 is an armed remotely piloted aircraft with capabilities that make the aircraft qualified to conduct irregular warfare operations. In comparison to the MQ-1B, the MQ-9 is larger, more powerful and has increased firepower capabilities.

“This is a big step for us to get into the new technology, the new airframe which provides us viability for now and in the future,” said McGarry. “That is very important for us.”

In order to transition from the MQ-1B to the MQ-9, the 178th Wing underwent a total retraining for their pilots, sensor operators and mission intelligence coordinators. The pilots and sensor operators assigned to the 178th Wing were sent to a formal school to be retrained. The mission intelligence coordinators were retrained through in house training and sister Air National Guard bases.

The base had to obtain two security waivers from Air Force headquarters to allow additional home station training.