According to a statement released by the U.S. Air Force, Airmen from Headquarters U.S. Air Forces in Europe, 52nd Fighter Wing, Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany and the 118th Wing, Tennessee Air National Guard, arrived in Miroslawiec Air Base, Poland, for a ceremony recognizing full operational capability for the Remotely Piloted Aircraft mission at the 52nd Expeditionary Operations Group Detachment 2.
The detachment is a geographically separated unit assigned to the 52 FW whose mission is to operate MQ-9 Reaper aircraft to promote security and stability within the region. The MQ-9s have been operating out of Poland since May 2018. This ribbon-cutting ceremony marks the completion of several new facilities, including secure processing centers, a Large Aircraft Maintenance Shelter, communications infrastructure and living dormitories for personnel assigned to the mission. An additional change is that the RPAs are now intermittently operated by U.S. military personnel in addition to regular use by government contractors.
Operating from forward locations in Europe enables collective defense capabilities and strengthens relationships with NATO allies and partners.
The Reaper, a remotely piloted aircraft primarily designed for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance collection, can also perform close air support, combat search and rescue, precision strike and other critical functions, making it an indispensable tool.
The MQ-9 model is designed by the General Atomics Aeronautical Systems to eliminate man hours on assembly time and reduce security concerns.
According to the General Atomics, Reaper has an endurance of over 27 hours, speeds of 240 KTAS(abbreviation for knots true airspeed, a unit of speed measurement), can operate up to 50,000 feet, and has a 3,850 pound (1746 kilogram) payload capacity that includes 3,000 pounds (1361 kilograms) of external stores.
An extremely reliable aircraft, MQ-9 is equipped with a fault-tolerant flight control system and triple redundant avionics system architecture. It is engineered to meet and exceed manned aircraft reliability standards.