Éditoriaux Défense Sécurité Terrorisme Zones de conflits Logistique Livres de référence Liens
Terre Air Mer Gendarmerie Renseignement Infoguerre Cyber Recherche

Predator Operators See Whole Picture

Predator Operators See Whole Picture

By Senior Airman Shaun Emery, 332nd Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

Balad Air Base, Iraq (AFPNJuly 29, 2005 -- Each MQ-1 Predator unmanned aerial vehicle mission flown in the Iraqi sky begins and ends here.

Balad Air Base, Iraq -- Senior Airman Justin Warnack goes over preflight checks before a mission supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Shaun Emery).

Senior Airman Justin Warnack goes over preflight checks (USAF Photo Shaun Emery)

Predator operators deployed here put the aircraft in the air and make sure it lands safely. Sitting side by side in the “cockpit,” enlisted Airmen and officers work as a team providing top cover to Soldiers on the ground.

Pilots and sensor operators with the 46th Expeditionary Reconnaissance Squadron here each play a key role in the successful Predator mission. While technology allows pilots to control the aircraft from the U.S., Predator takeoffs and landings must be controlled from Balad.

“We are the launch and recovery element for all Predator missions over Iraq,” said Maj. Matt Martin, 46th ERS commander. “It’s our job to ensure that 100 percent of (U.S. Central Air Forces) Predator taskings are completed.”

While in the air, the remote control of Predator aircraft is transferred to Airmen at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev.

A unique aspect of the 46th ERS mission is that enlisted Airmen and officers work together every mission. The pilot’s main mission is to fly the plane, while the sensor operator controls the cameras that bring the battlefield into full view to gain intelligence.

Unlike other missions, pilots here only control the plane during landing and takeoff. But because of technological issues, that part of the mission becomes essential.

“Getting those planes in the air and back on the ground ensures our mission success,” Major Martin said. “It’s different sitting at the controls here and not actually in the aircraft, but we adapted quickly to get the mission done.”

Airman 1st Class Felisha Rexford, a sensor operator for the 46th ERS, said her deployment has been an unforgettable experience.

“This is the only job where enlisted (Airmen) get to be copilots with officers,” she said. “I’ve learned so much about flying sitting beside them during missions.”

Sensor operators do much more than watch the feedback from their cameras. Working together with pilots, they do preflight checks, coordinate with the air control tower and provide feedback to pilots. They also keep an open dialogue with operators at Nellis.

“The sensor operators make our job much easier,” Major Martin said. “They know everything that’s going on with the aircraft at all times.”

After the aircraft takes off from here, the fun really starts, said Senior Airman Justin Warnack, a 46th ERS sensor operator.

“We can see everything from up there,” he said.

Airman Warnack has been working with the Predators for three years and has seen the aircraft’s abilities change from reconnaissance to battlefield support.

Predator aircraft are armed with two laser-guided Hellfire missiles. When ground support is needed, sensor operators use laser guidance to pinpoint the precise location to place a munition. When the pilot pulls the trigger, he knows the munitions are on target.

“It’s an amazing feeling to know that we are giving support to the troops on the ground,” Airman Rexford said. “It’s the most satisfying part of our mission here.”

Related Fact Sheet:


Derniers articles

Verdun 2016 : La légende de la « tranchée des baïonnettes »
Eyes in the Dark: Navy Dive Helmet Display Emerges as Game-Changer
OIR Official: Captured Info Describes ISIL Operations in Manbij
Cyber, Space, Middle East Join Nuclear Triad Topics at Deterrence Meeting
Carter Opens Second DoD Innovation Hub in Boston
Triomphe de St-Cyr : le Vietnam sur les rangs
Dwight D. Eisenhower Conducts First OIR Missions from Arabian Gulf
L’amiral Prazuck prend la manœuvre de la Marine
Airmen Practice Rescuing Downed Pilots in Pacific Thunder 16-2
On ne lutte pas contre les moustiques avec une Kalachnikov...
Enemy Mine: Underwater Drones Hunt Buried Targets, Save Lives
Daesh Publications Are Translated Into Eleven Languages
Opération Chammal : 10 000 heures de vol en opération pour les Mirage 2000 basés en Jordanie
Le Drian : Daech : une réponse à plusieurs niveaux
Carter: Defense Ministers Agree on Next Steps in Counter-ISIL Fight
Carter Convenes Counter-ISIL Coalition Meeting at Andrews
Carter Welcomes France’s Increased Counter-ISIL Support
100-Plus Aircraft Fly in for Exercise Red Flag 16-3
Growlers Soar With B-1s Around Ellsworth AFB
A-10s Deploy to Slovakia for Cross-Border Training
We Don’t Fight Against Mosquitoes With a Kalashnikov
Bug-Hunting Computers to Compete in DARPA Cyber Grand Challenge
Chiefs of US and Chinese Navies Agree on Need for Cooperation
DoD Cyber Strategy Defines How Officials Discern Cyber Incidents from Armed Attacks
Vice Adm. Tighe Takes Charge of Information Warfare, Naval Intelligence
Truman Strike Group Completes Eight-Month Deployment
KC-46 Completes Milestone by Refueling Fighter Jet, Cargo Plane
Air Dominance and the Critical Role of Fifth Generation Fighters
Une nation est une âme
The Challenges of Ungoverned Spaces
Carter Salutes Iraqi Forces, Announces 560 U.S. Troops to Deploy to Iraq
Obama: U.S. Commitment to European Security is Unwavering in Pivotal Time for NATO
International Court to Decide Sovereignty Issue in South China Sea
La SPA 75 est centenaire !
U.S. to Deploy THAAD Missile Battery to South Korea
Maintien en condition des matériels : reprendre l’initiative
La veste « léopard », premier uniforme militaire de camouflage
Océan Indien 2016 : Opérations & Coopération
Truman Transits Strait of Gibraltar
Navy Unveils National Museum of the American Sailor
New Navy, Old Tar
Marcel Dassault parrain de la nouvelle promotion d’officiers de l’École de l’Air
RIMPAC 2016 : Ravitaillement à la mer pour le Prairial avant l’arrivée à Hawaii
Bataille de la Somme, l’oubliée
U.S., Iceland Sign Security Cooperation Agreement
Cléopatra : la frégate Jean Bart entre dans l’histoire du BPC Gamal Abdel Nasser
Surveiller l’espace maritime français aussi par satellite
America's Navy-Marine Corps Team Fuse for RIMPAC 2016
Stratégie France : Plaidoyer pour une véritable coopération franco-allemande
La lumière du Droit rayonne au bout du chemin





Directeur de la publication : Joël-François Dumont
Comité de rédaction : Jacques de Lestapis, Hugues Dumont, François de Vries (Bruxelles), Hans-Ulrich Helfer (Suisse), Michael Hellerforth (Allemagne).
Comité militaire : VAE Guy Labouérie (†), GAA François Mermet (2S), CF Patrice Théry (Asie).

Contact