10/3/2014 – HOLLOMAN AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. — Holloman Air Force Base is home to the two primary Flight Training Units for MQ-9 Reaper pilots and sensor operators. With Remotely Piloted Aircraft on the forefront of our conflicts abroad, ensuring morale and the success of their training mission is more critical now than ever. To bolster camaraderie and further training consistency among their students, the 9th and 29th Attack Squadrons collaborated through a series of friendly challenges, ultimately culminating in the signing of an armistice to signify the unity of their mission.
“We wanted to ensure that the two squadrons were as aligned as possible,” explained Lt. Col. Steven Beattie, 29th Attack Squadron commander. “So I met with the commander of the 9th to come up with a way to maintain our own separate personalities and character while still boosting morale and camaraderie.”
It’s a typical PAO fluff story. Don’t even bother clicking through. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t a nugget of interesting information.
The MQ-9 Reaper is the bigger, badder brother of the MQ-1 Predator drone.
And of course, the Air Force operates aircraft in squadrons. What’s caught my eye is the *type* of squadron. In spite of being heavily armed, the Reaper is really more of a surveillance platform than anything else.
But the squadrons the Reaper operators are in are Attack squadrons. I glossed over that on my first read. There was a time when the Navy had dozens of attack squadrons.
But thinking on it, I don’t know that the Air Force has *ever* had attack squadrons. The old Army Air Corps, and maybe the Army Air Forces had them. But in the Air Force, manned aircraft assigned to the attack mission were in Fighter, Fighter-Bomber, and Tactical Fighter squadrons and wings.
As I said, with the Reaper primarily an Intelligence, Reconnaissance and Surveillance asset, you’d expect them to be in Reconnaissance squadrons. But I guess the Air Force wanted to distinguish them a touch from that staid image.