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    New York Air National Guard MQ-9 remotely piloted aircraft makes debut at African airshow

    MQ-9 makes debut at South African air show

    Photo By Maj. Jean Kratzer | U.S. Airmen from the New York Air National Guard discuss the MQ-9 Reaper, the remotely...... read more read more



    Story by Capt. Jean Kratzer 

    New York National Guard

    WATERKLOOF AIR FORCE BASE, PRETORIA, South Africa – The MQ-9 Reaper remotely piloted aircraft that’s changed the face of air warfare around the world is on display for the first time at the largest airshow on the African continent.

    The aircraft, operated by the New York Air National Guard’s 174th Attack Wing, based at Hancock Air National Guard Base in Syracuse, will be a centerpiece of the U.S. military exhibit when the African Aerospace & Defense Exposition opens to the public this weekend.

    The airshow, which is held every other year, features military and civilian aircraft from nearly 35 different countries as well as military vehicles. There are both flying and static displays.

    The event combines a trade show with an air show open to the public.
    “It has been an honor to be the first MQ-9 at the airshow, and we also were able to bring the first produced MQ-9 with the 001 tail number,” said Master Sgt. Brent Forbes, aircraft ground equipment supervisor for the MQ-9.

    The New York National Guard is also displaying a C-17 strategic transport from the 105th Airlift Wing at Stewart Air National Guard Base in Newburgh, N.Y. and an HC-130 search and rescue aircraft from the 106th Rescue Wing at Gabreski Air National Guard Base in Westhampton Beach, N.Y. on Long Island.

    The New York National Guard has 39 members in the 100-person U.S. military delegation at the show.

    The 174th was the first Air National Guard unit to make the switch from flying conventional aircraft—in this case the F-16—to flying remotely piloted aircraft. The wing is also the first to earn approval from the Federal Aviation Administration to operate the MQ-9 from a runway also used by civilian air traffic.

    “The experience working with the MQ-9 has been completely different from the F-16, but the biggest difference is now we can work from our home stations to perform the same missions and not have to travel,” explained Forbes.

    The MQ-9 was transported from Syracuse to the South African airbase, located outside Pretoria, on board the C-17 flown by the 105th Airlift Wing. The unmanned plan was transported in a 40 foot by 8 foot by eight foot shipping container.

    Six members of the 174th accompanied the aircraft to help assemble and disassemble it, a task which normally takes six hours. Two other airman who can fly the aircraft also came along to talk to military representatives attending the airshow.

    All eight members of the 174th team are ready to talk to the public—which could number as many as 100,000 people—over the weekend.
    “Everyone so far has been supportive and curious about our aircraft. I have spent the past two days speaking with such a diverse group of people from service members from all across the world to school age children,” said Tech. Sgt. Jake Wolfe, one of the team.

    “Normally at home we are mechanics for the aircraft but here at the airshow all of us worked together and played different roles to successfully set up the static display, we came together as a team,” Wolfe added.

    The 174th Attack Wing was established in 1947 as the first Air National Guard flying unit in New York State.

    Since then it has flown the propeller-driven F-47 Thunderbolt and F-51 Mustangs and the F-84 Thunderjets, F-86 Sabrejet, A-37 Dragonflies, A-10 Thunderbolts and the F-16 Fighting Falcon. The wing transitioned to operating the MQ-9 in 2010.

    The wing trains all MQ-9 maintenance technicians for the Air Force, Air National Guard and the Air Force Reserve and conducts qualification training for MQ-9 pilots and sensor operators at Hancock Field Air National Guard Base and Wheeler-Sack Army Airfield at Fort Drum, N.Y.



    Date Taken: 09.15.2016
    Date Posted: 09.15.2016 14:29
    Story ID: 209740
    Location: PRETORIA, ZA
    Hometown: SYRACUSE, NY, US

    Web Views: 396
    Downloads: 0